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Budget, Education & City Services

Community Board Five Support of Intro 146, 1020, 1339, 2018 and 2047 by the Council of the City of New York, Comm. on Gen. Welfare

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, October 8, 2020, the following resolution passed with a vote of 40 in favor; 0 opposed; 3 abstaining:

WHEREAS, as a local Community Board we are alarmed by the magnitude of homelessness in New York City, and the attendant human and financial costs to our city and its neighborhoods; and,

WHEREAS, the problem of homelessness has reached a critical juncture with the number of single adults sleeping each night in New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters increasing by a staggering 143 percent, from 7,700 in December 2009 to 18,700 in December 2019; and,

WHEREAS, In December 2019, 14,792 families slept in shelters each night; and,

WHEREAS, WHEREAS 1 in every 100 babies born in New York City last year was brought “home” from the hospital to a shelter; and,

WHEREAS, taxpayers fund over $1 billion for the statewide shelter system; and, 

WHEREAS, the costs to our communities are unsustainable and we need a fiscally-responsible approach that reduces overall cost of housing the homeless while keeping more families in their homes; and,

WHEREAS, New York City braces for the ending of the eviction moratorium and thousands of New Yorkers have fallen behind in their rent due to Covid19 and edge closer towards housing instability; and,

WHEREAS, Intro 146 would require that the maximum rent toward which rental assistance vouchers may be applied annually, increases at the same rate as the FMR set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and,

WHEREAS, The CityFHEPS rental assistance voucher is a critical tool in helping individuals and families avoid and exit shelter; and,

WHEREAS, Rental assistance combined with supportive services for homeless individuals with serious health problems can achieve savings in the health care, corrections, and emergency shelter systems, which may be close to or above the cost of the rental assistance and services; and,

WHEREAS, The maximum rent allowed under CityFHEPS for a three- or four-person household, is $1,580 per month, much below the fiscal year 2020 FMR for a two-bedroom apartment in New York City ($1,951 per month); and,

WHEREAS, Raising the voucher value would greatly expand the pool of available apartments for homeless individuals and families; and,

WHEREAS, The average length of stay in shelter is over 400 days; and,

WHEREAS, the average annual cost of shelters exceeds $71,000 per family; and,

WHEREAS, Intro 1020 would require Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Human Resources Administration (HRA) to track and report certain data regarding rental assistance programs, including outcomes of the CityFHEPS program and any future rental assistance program created for New York City residents; and,

WHEREAS, Intro 1339 would require Department of Social Services (DSS) to arrange for the provision of a written notice to applicants who are found potentially eligible for rental assistance programs administered by Department of Social Services. The notice would provide information about protections under the New York City Human Rights Law related to discrimination on the basis of a person’s lawful source of income; and,

WHEREAS, Intro 2018 would require Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to provide services to domestic violence survivors in all DHS shelters. Services, which are defined in the bill as “the coordination of appropriate services to clients who have experienced domestic violence, including but not limited to counseling, legal services, and access to employment, housing, childcare, and other resources,” would be coordinated by a social worker; and,

WHEREAS, A rise in domestic violence instances is a contributing factor in home insecurity and homelessness in the city; and,

WHEREAS, According to the recent report by the city comptroller’s office, Housing Survivors, approximately 40% of families entering the shelter system experienced domestic violence; and,

WHEREAS, Intro 2047 would prohibit real estate brokers, landlords, or their employees or agents from making any criminal history inquiries into a housing applicant’s background or taking an adverse action against such applicant due to criminal history; and,

WHEREAS, This would not extend to rental of room by roommate and owner occupied housing accommodations; and,

WHEREAS, This would not extend to sex offenders who are regulated under state law; and,

WHEREAS, Homelessness is a tragic outcome for too many New Yorkers who exit prisons and jails, even though stable housing is vital to a successful reentry. The disproportionate impact of over-policing and incarceration on communities of color is one driver of homelessness among Black and Latina New Yorkers; and,

WHEREAS, Of the 9,300 people released from State prisons to New York City in 2014, 23 percent of them went directly into the City shelter system; in 2017, 54 percent of the people released to New York City, or 4,122 individuals, entered the shelter system; and,

WHEREAS, The use of criminal records makes it more difficult for individuals leaving jail or prison to find housing and avoid long-term homelessness; and,

WHEREAS, people experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of recidivism and encounters with law enforcement; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five, Manhattan supports Intro 146, 1020, 1339, 2018 and 2047 as ways to address the homelessness crisis the city is facing and we ask our councilmembers and mayor to pass these legislations.

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