Facing Pressure, De Blasio Agrees To Require Some Developers To Set Aside Housing For Homeless – Gothamist

(GOTHAMIST) Elizabeth Kim, December 14, 2019

In a landmark shift in the city’s homelessness policy, the de Blasio administration has reached a deal with homeless advocates and City Council members to require certain developers receiving city funding to set aside 15 percent of their new rental units for homeless New Yorkers.

The bill, which was first reported by the New York Times, was the result of two days of intense negotiations around a plan introduced a year ago by Rafael Salamanca Jr., a councilmember from the Bronx.

Based on an analysis of six years of city development data, the Coalition for the Homeless has estimated that the legislation will produce approximately 1,000 new apartments for the homeless a year, adding to the 1,300 units that the city is currently building a year for the unsheltered population.

“This is historic,” Salamanca told Gothamist in a phone interview on Thursday. “We’re going to change the lives of thousands and thousands of individuals.”

In a statement, Jane Meyer, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said, “This agreement will ensure it’s written into law that future administrations continue the progress we’ve made and homeless New Yorkers can rest assured we’re doing all we can to put a safe and stable roof over their heads.”

As of September, there were more than 62,000 who spent a night in a homeless shelter, up from 52,000 during the same period in 2013, prior to de Blasio’s first term.

De Blasio’s cooperation with the legislation is a significant turnaround for the mayor, who has been facing mounting pressure from homeless advocates and elected officials to build more housing for the homeless. According to Coalition for the Homeless, more than half of the projects in de Blasio’s affordable housing plan for low-income people have no units reserved for the homeless.

In an op-ed published by Gothamist on Thursday, current and former homeless outreach workers wrote that the mayor’s “focus on 311s without new housing, in addition to the MTA plan [to add 500 new police officers], paints a dystopic portrait of a city administration that would rather move, harass, and disappear their homeless residents than house them. The solution is simple; make material investments in housing and outreach agencies.”