Housing DisConnect: Fact-Checking Mayor de Blasio’s Claims on Affordable Housing and Homelessness

(COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS) Giselle Routhier, Policy Director,December 17, 2018 

House Our Future NY is an advocacy campaign formed by the Coalition for the Homeless and 61 partner organizations, homeless men, women, and children, and other caring New Yorkers. We are urging Mayor de Blasio to dedicate 10 percent of his overall Housing New York 2.0 plan to provide housing for homeless New Yorkers, including 20 percent of all new construction. Specifically, we are asking the Mayor to provide 30,000 new units of affordable, permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers by 2026, with 24,000 of these units to be created through new construction. As of December 2018, 38 City elected officials have endorsed this campaign, including the Public Advocate, the Comptroller, four Borough Presidents, and the majority of City Council Members.

The House Our Future NY plan is carefully designed to address critical shortcomings in Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0 plan, including the over-emphasis on preserving existing occupied housing without sufficient new construction for homeless households, inadequate homeless set-aside targets, and the need for much more robust affordable housing production beyond the Mayor’s supportive housing commitment.

  1. The House Our Future NY recommendation is purposefully heavy on new construction. In order to meaningfully reduce homelessness in New York City, new deeply subsidized affordable housing will need to be built from the ground up specifically for homeless families and individuals. The majority of housing units slated to be preserved by the City are already occupied, and thus will not provide a route to help a homeless person or family move out of a shelter. That is why we recommend that 24,000 housing units be created through new construction for homeless households: 20 percent of the Mayor’s overall goal of 120,000 units of new construction.
  2. The House Our Future NY recommendation is to set aside 10 percent of the apartments to be created or preserved through Housing New York 2.0 for homeless men, women, and children. In contrast, Mayor de Blasio’s current plan allocates a mere 5 percent of all 300,000 units created or preserved under Housing New York 2.0 for homeless households, at a time when homelessness has reached new record levels. This meager commitment is neither in line with the amount of the housing allocated to serve homeless people in New York City’s past affordable housing plans,[1] 2nor will it move the needle on our city’s currently much larger – and still growing – homelessness crisis.
  3. The House Our Future NY recommendation is separate and apart from prior campaigns to secure commitments from Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to build more permanent supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers living with a severe mental illness or other disability. The Mayor previously committed to producing 15,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years in New York City, and the Governor committed another 20,000 over 15 years statewide. However, with an all-time record 63,559 people sleeping in shelters each night – the vast majority of whom are members of homeless families – it is absolutely critical that the City create more affordable housing for the tens of thousands of homeless households who will not need or be eligible for supportive housing.

This paper addresses claims Mayor de Blasio has made regarding the House Our Future NY Campaign and elaborates on the current state of homelessness, the need for more housing, and the mechanisms for achieving our goals.