Mayor de Blasio’s touted his affordable housing plan as unprecedented and ambitious — but advocates for the homeless say it’ll barely put a dent in the population of New Yorkers sleeping in shelters.
“We have to tie it to what the need is — and that is reducing the homelessness that is currently at record levels,” Giselle Routhier, policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless, told the Daily News.
De Blasio’s plan pledges to build or preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing — but sets aside just 15,000 units for the homeless. Her group is releasing a report this week urging the mayor to increase that number to 30,000 units — or 10% of the total created by the plan.
The plan originally set aside just 10,000 for the homeless, before the city bumped it to 15,000 when it increased the overall goal from 200,000 to 300,000.
“I think the big thing is really getting folks to understand how little will be done at the end of this plan, given the scale of the plan and the scale of homelessness,” she said.
The number of New Yorkers sleeping in shelters has ballooned to more than 60,000. The 10,000 units set aside for the homeless isn’t enough, she argued — especially because only 4,000 would be new construction. The rest are existing units that will be preserved.
The group notes that the city’s last ambitious housing plan, launched by Mayor Ed Koch, set aside 10% of its units for the homeless.
De Blasio has launched a plan aimed at the homeless dubbed Turning the Tide, which focuses mainly on building new shelters in communities across the city and is only projected to cut the shelter population by 2,500 people in 10 years.
The coalition, Routhier said, aimed to look at “how we’re actually going to marry these two plans.”
“We’re calling for a greater number of those new units to be built so that we’re increasing the stock that’s available and when it comes online we’re making that stock available to people who are currently in the shelter system.”
The city has so far financed 7,188 units for formerly homeless families.
“This Mayor has put forward the most affordable housing plan in City history, enhanced our rent vouchers program, created free anti-eviction legal services and made a huge commitment to supportive housing. We are looking to tackle homelessness from every angle,” de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace said.
The city requires set-asides for homeless families in the majority of its financing programs, it said, and has launched programs to provide additional subsidies for such units to avoid relying on rental assistance.
The city also last year announced plans to turn cluster site apartments used as shelters into affordable housing that would serve to get more New Yorkers out of the shelter system.
City Hall also cited several programs in place to help people avoid losing their homes and entering shelter.