As New York City's homeless crisis continues to reach record-setting heights, a group of council members are demanding the city triple the number of affordable housing units planned for homeless individuals.
The New York Daily News reports 18 council members sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday urging his administration increase the number of allocated New York City Housing Authority apartments from 750 per year to 2,500.
“We are here today to call on the administration, to call on the New York City Housing Authority to dedicate 2,500 units per year of permanent and stable affordable housing in NYCHA for families in the shelter system,” Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn) said at a press conference Tuesday. “That is on top of their other efforts of creating a new subsidy program for working families and other families that have chronic barriers to housing.”
750 units is far less than the number of homes allocated by both former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, the council members said.
In March, de Blasio unveiled what he deemed the "most ambitious" affordable housing program in the country. But on Tuesday, Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) called the planned homelessness solution "too timid," and questioned whether 750 units would spur any significant changes to the city's unprecedented homeless population.
“The mayor is failing to set aside enough units to leave a dent in the crisis," Torres said.
Coalition for the Homeless president Mary Brosnahan echoed the concerns.
"Without making full use of this critical and cost-effective resource, it is hard to see how New York City can reduce the tragic and unacceptable number of families sleeping in our shelters every night,” Brosnahan said in statement.
Advocates say housing assistance is a crucial element to helping families in need transition out of homelessness, with recent studies showing it to be more cost effective for cities to house the newly homeless than keep them in the shelter system.
De Blasio has said reducing homeless numbers is an important tenant in the city's plan to bring down income inequality rates. Last month, he set forth two proposals aiming to bring back rental assistance for homeless families seeking to transition out of shelters.
More than 53,000 people are forced to sleep in New York City shelters each night, according to numbers provided by the Coalition for the Homeless.