According to new data provided by the Coalition for the Homeless, there are more than 250,000 homeless in the state, 152,839 of whom are school-aged children.
In New York City, the homeless population still hovers near 61,000, including more than 22,000 children.
Mayor de Blasio’s plan to open more shelters is not going over well with residents. From Rockaway Park to College Point, neighbors are becoming increasingly frustrated with the seeming lack of transparency.
A civic leader from Ozone Park has even gone so far as to create a five-borough coalition to prevent the city from opening those homeless shelters.
But a solution is in sight. Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support (HSS) program would create a new statewide rent supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance and face eviction or homelessness.
HSS, which will be completely state-funded, is a crucial first step to addressing the crisis. It’s more effective than expanding a homeless shelter system that benefits providers and developers, and actually keeps people in their homes.
The only problem, as Hevesi has repeated numerous times, is Governor Andrew Cuomo. The proposal, which has major support in the City Council, Assembly and State Senate, passed last year, but was not funded in the governor’s budget.
The problem could be personal. Hevesi admitted that he dislikes Cuomo, and the governor feels the same about him. Or it could be that the governor, who fancies himself as a fiscal conservative, just doesn’t want to commit that much money.
Like many problems facing New York, the governor holds the power in his hands. He needs to fund HSS and start to really tackle homelessness.