City Hall, NY – On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Council Member Ruben Wills introduced a resolution co-sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee and Council Member Vanessa Gibson to call for the passage of a state budget that does not bar New York City from using State reimbursement for rental subsidy programs for the homeless.

As of January, the homeless population has exceeded 53,000 in the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) shelters throughout New York City.  With the loss of vital federal services such as the Section 8 Housing subsidy, lack of affordable housing options and an ever increasing public housing waiting list, New York City’s homeless population has increased and has caused a tremendous strain on the city’s DHS shelter systems.

Resolution 0123-2014 calls for a change in the language of the current proposed State budget which at present prohibits state reimbursements to the type of rental-subsidy program that is needed to drastically lower the recidivism rate for New York City homeless families and adults. The loss of state funding for the Advantage program due to this language left more than 10,000 families without any affordable housing options. This resulted in affected individuals and families, many of which returned to the homeless shelter systems being placed on waiting lists spanning between two to five years before being eligible for any subsidized services toward obtaining permanent housing.

“Last year, our homeless population reached a dismal number exceeding 50,000. The severe and rapidly increasing numbers are cause for concern and demand a real solution today,” stated Council Member Ruben Wills. “Removing state limitations on funding for rental subsidies that allowed for the creation of the Advantage Program will allow New York City the dexterity to take many homeless individuals and families out of the shelter system and provide a pathway towards a permanent housing solution.”

“Homelessness is at record highs in New York City and the number of people in the shelter system, including families with children, is continuing to increase” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “It must be our mission to help homeless New Yorkers find a way out of the shelter system and New York City needs flexibility to make this happen. It is crucially important that the State’s budget not prevent New York City from being able to use reimbursements for rental subsidy programs for the homeless and I applaud Council Member Wills for introducing this resolution.”

“Homelessness can be devastating – especially for families with young children,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “It is critical for New York City to have the latitude and the flexibility needed to design a rental assistance program that meets the unique needs of those in our City who are trying to avoid being relegated to living in New York’s overcrowded and highly stressed shelter housing system.”

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