Kathleen Kelleher, Senior Staff Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, issued the following statement today regarding homelessness funding in the New York State budget:
“The final enacted budget does little more than pay lip service to addressing the crisis of homelessness in the state – virtually ignoring the 150,000 children currently homeless and 80,000 New York households on the brink of homelessness. This epidemic is hardly surprising since the rental assistance allowances paid to New Yorkers on public assistance is shamefully low and has not increased since 2003. A family of three on public assistance receives only $400 a month for rent while the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) has calculated the fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment in New York City to be $1789– leaving a gap of over $1300.
The Governor and the Legislature could have delivered a comprehensive solution to this problem by enacting legislation known as Home Stability Support (HSS). This program would have bridged the affordability gap and enabled vulnerable New Yorkers to stay in the their homes by providing rent supplements at the local fair market rent. Instead, the final enacted state budget rejects this comprehensive, common sense solution and includes only a minuscule pilot program that will provide local fair market rent subsidies to only 300 households – most in New York City and some in Rochester, ignoring the rest of the State. This timid pilot program will barely move the needle. We call on the Governor and the Legislature to do more.”