News Articles

De Blasio holds out ‘hope’ for state partnership on homelessness - Politico New York

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced the formation of a task force made up of a “brain trust” of nonprofit homeless services providers to help the city with its plans to create 15,000 units of supportive housing for the city’s homeless and mentally ill over the next 15 years.

The task force is made up representatives of more than a dozen nonprofits, including the Bowery Residents Committee, Supportive Housing network of New York, Catholic Charities and HELP USA, well-regarded operators and providers among the city’s shelter, supportive housing and homeless services professionals. 

The task force, chaired by city Human Resources Administration commissioner Steve Banks, Housing Preservation and Development commissioner Vicki Been and Laura Mascuch, executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York, will help the city expedite the creation of the new housing units, de Blasio said, as it faces high numbers of homeless people living in city shelters and on the streets. Advocates say the city will need 25,000 units of supportive housing over the next 10 to 15 years.

The announcement, made at a supportive housing site in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, is the fifth de Blasio has made on the issue of homelessness in eight days.

De Blasio announced in November that the city would create and pay for 15,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years, and would find a way to pay for those units without state help.

For more than two decades, governors and mayors have been able to agree to a joint, long-term plan to build such housing, while sharing the costs, under a program called NY/NY. But negotiations for such a plan between the de Blasio administration and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration foundered this year, after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on whether the city should pay more money for the costs of operating the housing.

De Blasio and advocates for the homeless say supportive housing is a crucial element to ending homelessness, and have repeatedly called on Cuomo to make a similar commitment to the one the city has made.

Cuomo, who is set to deliver a major address Wednesday that includes some new homelessness initiatives, has not, in public at least, acceded to the demands for more funding for supportive housing.

De Blasio said again on Tuesday that he hopes Cuomo will help the city with a commitment of “resources” and funding on supportive housing.

“I hold out hope that there will be a partnership with the state,” de Blasio said. “I think we need the state’s support and we welcome the state’s resources and partnership.”

De Blasio, who plans to travel to Albany Wednesday for the governor’s speech, said he plans to meet in person with Cuomo and the legislative leaders to discuss not only homelessness but also the city’s plans on housing, affordable housing and education aid.

Asked whether the city needed the state’s help with homelessness, or is doing well enough managing the problem on its own, de Blasio said simply that he is looking forward to the governor’s speech.

“We look forward to the announcement tomorrow, and hope obviously that will address, the need for an ongoing state role as a partner in this work,” de Blasio said.

Read More