Fourth “Supportive Housing Agreement”Would Create Housing for Thousands Living with Disabilities and Mental Illness
New York City Council members stood with homeless and housing advocates at the steps of City Hall Monday afternoon in support of a resolution calling on Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to quickly negotiate and sign the fourth in a series of agreements that create permanent supportive housing as record homelessness continues to grow.
“To address the record homelessness crisis in New York, we need to utilize proven solutions that work,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, who serves as Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “We need urgent action on NY/NY IV and we need a commitment that matches the growing needs of homeless families and individuals in New York.”
Permanent supportive housing combines affordable housing with support services to help people living with disabilities like serious mental illness live with stability. The “Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing,” endorsed by more than 180 organizations, is calling on the Governor and Mayor to sign a new agreement to create 30,000 units of such housing over the next decade.
As winter begins in New York City, there are more than 58,000 people in municipal homeless shelters each night, including more than 25,000 children. An estimated two-thirds of the street homeless population (30-to-40% of homeless adults without children in shelters and 10-to-15% of homeless families with children) are in need of permanent supportive housing, and recent studies indicate that the number of homeless people sleeping on New York City streets is on the rise.
“The cold reality is that 59,246 New Yorkers will sleep in City shelters tonight,” said Council Member Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), Chair of the Committee on Health. “We also know from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that roughly 40% of the American homeless population has experienced some sort of disability. I therefore wholeheartedly cast my support behind the imperative call for a fourth New York/New York Agreement that would create a much needed 30,000 units of supportive housing over the next decade.”
There have already been three City-State “New York/New York Agreements” to fund the creation of permanent supportive housing (in 1990, 1998, and 2005). Combined, the NY/NY agreements have created more than 14,000 supportive housing units, proven to be the most successful and cost-effective solution to ending homelessness for individuals and families at risk of cycling between homelessness, emergency and institutional systems without affordable permanent housing and support services. It is also a significant part of Mayor de Blasio’s 10-year “Housing New York” plan, just as previous NY/NY Agreements were a part of the Koch and Bloomberg 10-year housing plans.
“For thousands of New York’s seniors, disabled veterans, survivors of domestic violence and mentally ill, the NY/NY supportive housing agreements have helped break the cycle of homelessness,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). “The NY/NY program reduces chronic homelessness, often keeping people out of hospitals, jails, and costly emergency shelters. A renewal of this pivotal City-State commitment, NY/NY IV, is essential.”
A December 2013 analysis by the City’s health department found that the third “NY/NY Agreement” alone reduced use of shelters, hospitals, psych centers and incarceration, for an average net public savings of $10,100/unit per year. “NY/NY III” also decreased chronic homelessness among single adults by 47% in first 5 years, and provided stability with more than 75% of NY/NY III tenants remaining housed after two years. Previous studies have also found significant cost savings from previous NY/NY Agreements.
More than 20,000 households per year are found eligible for supportive housing, but currently there is only 1 housing unit available for every 6 eligible applicants. With the NY-NY III agreement expiring soon, advocates fear the supply of supportive housing units will dwindle further without urgent action from the City and State.
“Without a strong NY/NY IV Agreement, there is simply no way to reduce the record levels of homelessness in New York City,” said Mary Brosnahan, President and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. “Now is the time for the Governor and Mayor to come together to create the permanent supportive housing we know both saves millions in taxpayer dollars and gives those living with disabilities and mental illness the help they need.”