By Mark Hallum
State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi is calling for the executive budget to include a critical program he claims will stop the growth of homelessness in its tracks in a recent letter Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Home Stability Support is not just aimed at saving individuals at risk of homelessness from eviction, but focuses on families who are falling on hard times and facing rising cost of living across the state. Hevesi hopes to see the plan fully funded from the governor’s office in the coming years.
“Homelessness in New York state, already at the worst levels since the Great Depression, continues to grow rapidly and the failure to address this crisis has severe human and financial consequences for the people of New York,” Hevesi said. “This program will immediately stop the growth of homelessness and provide an opportunity for some currently homeless families and individuals to be stably housed. Once we stop the growth of the crisis, we can engage in policy discussions about how to enable these New Yorkers to leave public assistance behind and escape poverty.”
According to a press release from Home Stability Support, there are more than 152,839 homeless children in the state with 62,333 children entering homelessness since 2011 alone. Hevesi claims that homelessness can create a cycle of mental illness that can affect their entire lives.
“These kids, through no fault of their own, are being forced to contend with hardships and trauma far beyond their years,” Hevesi added. “The trauma of homelessness is one of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that leads to long-term health, educational and developmental hardships that can impact them throughout their lives.”
The program would be both federally and state funded, replacing all other rent supplement programs, according to the HSS website.
Alexis Foote, founder of Edgemere Community Garden, and other advocates issued similar calls for the inclusion of funding for the program in a recent joint press release.
“I can speak from experience when I say that being homeless weights heavy on women of color with children,” Foote said. “Homelessness strips you of your self-respect, your humanity and your life goals. We need innovative solutions like Home Stability Support to protect housing for our most vulnerable residence. We need to stop paying hotels to [house] homeless families and single adults. The city needs to stop selling public land to private developers who don’t pay their fair share of taxes.”
Each year, between 19,000 and 23,000 more people enter homelessness each year than are transitioned out, which is attributed to rising rents as well as domestic violence and hazardous living conditions.
“Chronic homelessness plagues New Yorkers in counties throughout the state, and tenants desperately need a comprehensive solution to help make rent and to stay in their homes,” said Adriene Holder an attorney with The Legal Aid Society, said. “Home Stability Support is a common-sense, cost-effective solution that will prevent homelessness and save precious tax dollars. The Legal Aid Society urges Governor Andrew Cuomo to incorporate this much needed housing program into this year’s budget.”
Cuomo delivered his State of the State address Jan. 15 outlining some key goals in the upcoming executive budget, but no mention was made on including Home Stability Support.