Over 100 homeless advocacy and service provider organizations launched a new coalition this week — United to End Homelessness – to help address the homelessness crisis and hold 2013 mayoral and Council candidates accountable for advancing solutions. New York City’s next mayor and City Council will confront record levels of homelessness with over 57,000 people living in shelters or sleeping on City streets as of January, including more than 22,000 children.
“With NYC facing record homelessness, it’s critical that a new mayor and City Council take significant policy steps – together with other stakeholders – to stem the tide of misery in our city,“ said Mary Brosnahan, President & CEO of Coalition for the Homeless. “In order to move us forward, it’s imperative that city leaders increase investment in programs and services proven to help move our homeless neighbors towards permanent housing and self-sufficiency. We must expect no less from the next administration and City Council.“
“Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York often receives more than 300 hundred calls a day from New Yorkers on the verge of becoming homeless,“ said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “Living with dignity in safe, decent housing is a basic human need. New York has been in the forefront of trying to ensure this right. Yet, despite this commitment in principle and with resources, too many residents of our City are homeless, doubled up or on the brink of becoming homeless. Preventing homelessness needs to be a high and ongoing priority for all New York’s institutions and sectors. As we approach the elections of a new Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate and City Council, preventing homelessness and ensuring safe, decent and affordable housing needs to be a central item on candidates’ agenda.“
United to End Homelessness formed to promote a unified vision to help create solutions for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness during the 2013 election and beyond. As part of its launch, the coalition put forward a platform to outline the necessary steps the next administration must take to help end the homelessness crisis. Its platform focuses on:
- Ensuring that fighting homelessness and expanding affordable housing is a top mayoral priority;
- Increasing funding for programs that prevent homelessness, like legal services, eviction and foreclosure prevention, and aftercare services for the formerly homeless;
- Expanding and improving housing assistance resources: create a new local rent subsidy for homeless people, reinstate and expand priority set-asides for the homeless in Federal, State, and City programs, and redesign the City’s system for placing extremely low-income and homeless households in set-aside units in tax credit buildings;
- Guaranteeing adequate shelter, health care and services for all people experiencing homelessness without deterrent or bureaucratic barriers;
- Continuing investments in supportive housing: ensure sufficient funding to fulfill the NY-NY III agreement, create a NY-NY IV agreement that increases the supply of housing units for homeless people, and ensure that existing supportive housing tenants continue to get the services they need by bringing contract rates up to current costs;
- Preserving and creating more affordable housing for New York’s lowest income households;
- Improving planning around natural disaster-induced homelessness, integrating it into the City’s overall strategy to assist homeless people regardless of the cause of homelessness
- Creating an interagency council on homelessness that includes government, non-profit, and consumer stakeholders to implement a comprehensive plan to end homelessness, unifying priorities by sharing data and resources across agencies to enhance system-wide efficiencies.
The number of homeless New Yorkers in shelters each night has increased 58% since 2002, and the number of homeless families has increased 66% over the same period. An additional 5,000 people sleep each night in other shelters (including runaway and unaccompanied homeless youth, domestic violence survivors, and people living with AIDS), and thousands more sleep on the streets or in other public spaces. New York City’s youth shelter system is overwhelmed and a record 80% of domestic violence emergency shelter residents are leaving with no safe place to go.
“Ending homelessness should be a top priority for the next administration and we look for the next Mayor to have a plan for doing so,“ said Ted Houghton, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of NY. “Supportive housing – affordable housing linked to services – will be a major part of any successful plan: it is the most effective way to house those New Yorkers with disabilities or other barriers that make it hard for them to keep their homes.“
“Homelessness in New York City is a growing crisis that demands attention and action from our current government leaders, and from those who seek to lead our city,“ said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO/Executive Director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.
“Domestic violence can often force victims and their children into homelessness.“ said Carol Corden, Executive Director of New Destiny Housing Corporation. “80 percent of families leaving emergency domestic violence shelters have no safe place to go. We can and must do better to help New Yorkers find safe, stable homes. “
“We can end homelessness,“ said Bobby Watts, Executive Director of Care for the Homeless. “Policy choices that were made resulted in this crisis, and better public policy can get us out of it, spare needless human suffering, better serve our communities and save significant tax dollars.“
“With over 22,000 children sleeping in homeless shelters and hundreds of runaway and homeless youth being turned away because of a shortage of beds, it is critical that the City take immediate action to address the homelessness crisis,“ said Jennifer March-Joly, Executive Director, Citizens’ Committee for Children.
“We are experiencing a crisis in the availability of safe, affordable housing in the community“ said Phillip A. Saperia, CEO of The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. “People with severe mental illness and substance use issues, often accompanied by multiple chronic physical health problems, are especially vulnerable to becoming homeless in this environment.“