From The Field: Governor Cuomo Commits to Creating 20,000 New Units of Supportive Housing

During his annual State of the State address on January 13, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a new commitment to build or rehabilitate 20,000 supportive housing units statewide over the next fifteen years. This pledge follows New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) announcement of the largest commitment to supportive housing creation in the city’s history on November 18, when he promised to create 15,000 units over the next fifteen years (See Memo 1/11/2016). With these commitments from Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing has met its goal of convincing leaders to produce 35,000 new units statewide.

Mr. Cuomo’s pledge for new supportive housing came in the context of a broader commitment of $20 billion to produce 100,000 new affordable rental homes throughout the state. This $20 billion includes support for 1,000 new emergency shelter beds to help the rapidly growing population of people who are homeless and without any shelter.

The Supportive Housing Network of New York (The Network) and the Coalition for the Homeless, both NLIHC State Coalition Partners, worked with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Enterprise Community Partners, and others to launch the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing in May of 2014. The campaign was supported by more than 300 organizations and 280 leaders of the faith community that advocated aggressively on its behalf. Advocates are thrilled by Mr. Cuomo’s announcement but will continue to be vigilant in the coming years to ensure that the city and state honor their new commitments.

Mr. Cuomo also used his State of the State address to assure municipalities that humane treatment of homeless people was a priority and that dangerous or unsanitary emergency shelters would be shut down. This came just days after an executive order by the governor that all homeless people throughout the state must be directed into shelters when temperatures are below freezing, stating that homeless people are at great risk when sleeping outside in such conditions. Mr. Cuomo’s staff later acknowledged that fully competent individuals cannot be forced into shelters against their will. The announcement of the executive order led many advocates to counter that New York City and most other jurisdictions already have cold-temperature plans in place but what was needed were more investments for long-term solutions.  Mr. Cuomo responded by announcing his commitment to produce more supportive and other affordable housing.

“This is an extraordinary moment for the supportive housing community,” said Laura Mascuch, Executive for The Network. “We are deeply grateful to the Governor and our state partners for this incredible commitment. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s pledge we have a real chance to actually end homelessness among the most vulnerable New Yorkers in the next fifteen years.”

For more information about campaign efforts to expand supportive housing in New York, contact Steve Piasecki at [email protected].