From the Field: New York City Council Member Rallies with Homelessness Advocates and Announces New Homeless Housing Legislation

New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca recently announced new legislation aimed at increasing affordable housing for the city’s homeless residents in conjunction with the ongoing House our Future New York (HOFNY) campaign led by the Coalition for the Homeless, an NLIHC state partner. Council Member Salamanca and members of HOFNY rallied on the steps of New York City Hall on October 31 in support of his bill to create more housing for homeless individuals and families. They were also joined by Council Members Stephen Levin, Vanessa Gibson, and Jumaane Williams. Council Member Salamanca’s bill, Int 1211-2018, would mandate that developers receiving city funds for rental housing projects set aside a minimum of 15% of dwelling units for the homeless. The bill has 19 cosponsors.

Advocates view the newly proposed legislation as a means for achieving the campaign’s goal of increasing the supply of housing dedicated to the homeless in Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0 plan from 5% to at least 10%. Housing New York 2.0 is a ten-year plan to create and preserve 300,000 homes by 2026, setting aside 5%, or 15,000 homes, for the homeless. Given the city’s severe homelessness crisis, the campaign seeks to increase this number to at least 30,000, with most (24,000 homes) created through new construction. According the HOFNY, the city has experienced a 77% increase in homelessness within the past decade, and currently over 63,000 people, including 23,000 children, spend their nights in homeless shelters. The campaign argues that the city’s need for permanent housing for the homeless will not be satisfied by the mayor’s current housing plan. 

The rally is the most recent action the HOFNY campaign has carried out to spur support for more permanent housing for the homeless and to pressure the mayor to revise his plan. In June, the campaign organized a children’s march on City Hall focused on emphasizing the need for more deeply affordable housing for homeless families. Over 100 children, including those living in shelters, advocated for housing by displaying LEGO houses they had built. As part of the October action, over 400 New Yorkers marched from the Upper East Side to Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence. The following week, the group convened outside City Hall with Council Member Salamanca.

“The House Our Future NY Campaign has gained tremendous momentum over the past few months, but our work is far from done,” said Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier. “We currently have support from 61 organizations and 38 City elected officials, including the majority of City Council members, but the mayor continues to refuse to set aside a modest portion of his housing plan to address [the] current record homelessness – 30,000 units overall with 24,000 units to be created through new construction. We will continue to push forward with this campaign because the City has reached a crossroads: Will our elected officials continue to allow homelessness to impact tens of thousands of New Yorkers every night for the foreseeable future, or will we invest in real solutions? We have the tools to make a meaningful difference now, and we need to use them.”

For more information, contact Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier at: 212-776-2004 or [email protected]