New York Daily News EXCLUSIVE: City Council Progressive Caucus backs Queens assemblyman's statewide plan to subsidize rent for 'vulnerable residents' by Kenneth Lovett

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
EXCLUSIVE: City Council Progressive Caucus backs Queens assemblyman's statewide plan to subsidize rent for 'vulnerable residents'
Kenneth Lovett
01/26/2017
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The plan is intended to reduce reliance on homeless shelters by keeping struggling families in their homes.

 (JEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

ALBANY - A Queens assemblyman's plan to crack down on the city homeless crisis has won the backing of the City Council's Progressive Caucus.

The caucus is supporting a plan by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) called the Home Stability Support program that is intended to reduce reliance on homeless shelters by creating a new statewide rent subsidy to keep people in their homes.

"It's a smart solution, and we encourage our state Legislature to implement it quickly," said Councilman Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Councilman Ben Kallos, the caucus' vice chair for policy, called the proposed program "a much needed lifeline" for families on the brink of losing their homes.

"New York City is in the midst of a homelessness crisis that is severely impacting our most vulnerable residents, with currently 23,365 children are living in our city's shelter system," Kallos said. "We should be doing everything we can to prevent more families from ending up in already crowded shelters."

Hevesi's plan previously has been backed by 111 state Assembly members from both parties, a group of eight breakaway Senate Democrats who help make up a leadership coalition with the Republicans, and a range of other public officials.

Hevesi has said his plan would cost the state and feds $450 million, but it would ultimately save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by relying less on costly shelters. It would also be a big savings for the city, he has said.

Under the plan, a mishmash of state and local rent subsidies that he says are no longer effective would be replaced with a single state program for families and individuals facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or other dangerous conditions.

Part of the current problem of keeping people in their homes is that a shelter allowance created by the state in 1975 covered the full rents of the vast majority of those on public assistance, but it hasn't kept up with the increase in rents over the years, Hevesi has said.

Simply raising the shelter allowance wouldn't work because it would reduce federally funded food stamp funding that would offset any rental help and force more people onto public assistance, he said.

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