Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is expected to outline a new plan today to combat homelessness by providing rental subsidies to those living in homeless shelters. De Blasio will ask the state for $40 million to help fund the program, which is expected to cost $80 million. The city will kick in the rest.
Homelessness in New York City remains at a high level. The Wall Street Journal reported that as of last week more than 53,000 – including 23,000 children – slept in city shelters.
The administration’s proposal follows a former rental subsidy program, Advantage, which the state stopped funding in 2011. Gilbert Taylor, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, was expected to outline the plan when he testifies today at a City Council hearing about the budget.
The program would serve 801 families every year who have been in a city shelter for more than a year, with at least one adult working 35 hours.
In addition to the rental subsidy, the mayor is also looking to reverse a Bloomberg administration policy that stopped giving homeless families priority for available public housing units. It’s still unclear how many units would be set aside for the homeless under the proposal.
According to the Journal report, the mayor is also wants to increase funds for a decade-old homelessness prevention program, called Homebase, with $10.2 million starting July 1.
While officials have said that the goal of the new program is to decrease the amount of people in shelters, they did not provide an exact target.
“We want to reduce the census incrementally over time,” Taylor told the Wall Street Journal. “Obviously, I would love to do it sooner than later, but I know that realistically speaking it has to be a process — it can’t be an event.” [WSJ] – Claire Moses