A Lot to Like in the Proposed State Budget…But Some Things Need Changing!

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
Commentators found lots to like in Governor Cuomo’s Budget address last week. There was more money for supportive housing (that’s a big issue for us at Care for the Homeless), a commitment to fund pre-K and aid education across New York State, even if the “how to fund it” issue is still open for debate, excellent programs to aid victims of domestic violence and more.
But one really critical issue in the fight to end the homelessness crisis in New York City just has to get fixed in the budget before it gets adopted over the next three months. That’s the opportunity to set re-establish a critically needed subsidy to move families from homeless shelters to permanent housing.

Earlier this month the Citizens Committee for Children, our advocacy partner in fighting homelessness in New York City, released a report decrying that over 22,000 kids sleep daily in city family homeless shelters and arguing we can’t successfully end that without a large scale and effective subsidy to move some of those families to real housing.  

Of course they’re right! And it’s a win-win because people in city shelters cost taxpayers $3,000 a month but an effective housing voucher costs about $1,000 a month. Whether you think it’s more important to give those families a second chance and better outcomes, or more important to save tax dollars, you should support the idea.

Unfortunately, we can get there unless we change current state budget language prohibiting the use of state dollars and state administered federal TANF funds as rent supplements for homeless families. That’s language inserted in the state budget to end funding the city’s “Advantage” rent subsidy program in 2011. Most policy experts agree the lack of that kind of a subsidy, which we had in some form for 30 year up to the termination 3 years ago, was a major contributing factor in our exploding homelessness crisis in New York.

We join the efforts of our colleagues at United to End Homelessness, the Coalition for the Homeless and the CCC in calling on the Governor and state legislature to adopt language authorizing a subsidy to move people from homelessness to housing. It’s critical in giving homeless people a second chance, in ending homelessness AND it saves public dollars.      

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