By Carol Tannenhauser
On Friday, New York State took a step toward preventing and eliminating family homelessness in New York City.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law raising the value of a state housing program voucher for low-income NYC families to 100% of the fair-market rent set by HUD, as opposed to 85%, according to a statement from her office.
The bill was co-sponsored by the UWS’s State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, with State Senator Brian Kavanagh. In part as a nod to Rosenthal, but also because of Goddard Riverside’s century-long history of providing social services to the neighborhood, Hochul said, the signing took place at the Goddard Riverside Lincoln Square Community Center at 250 West 65th Street. “We are deeply grateful to Governor Hochul and Assembly Member Rosenthal for signing this legislation, and choosing Goddard Riverside as the place to do so,” said Roderick Jones, Goddard’s executive director.
As we work to end the homelessness crisis, this law will help ensure that thousands of NYers & their families are able to move into homes or remain stably housed. pic.twitter.com/IhsM41KG3f
— Linda B. Rosenthal “the #OriginalRosenthal” (@LindaBRosenthal) December 10, 2021
The bill Hochul signed — S.6573/A.8009 — “makes housing vouchers available to eligible families under the Family Homelessness and Eviction Protection Supplement (FHEPS) program in New York City,” a statement from the Governor’s office explained. “It raises the maximum rent payable under the FHEPS program to cover the true cost of rent in New York City, one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation.”
“With the stroke of a pen, we will allow thousands more New Yorkers to leave a shelter and go into a home of their own, because for the first time they can afford it,” the governor said. “The homelessness crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken a toll on our state, disproportionately impacting Black and Latino communities. New York State is here to work with New York City to support families facing unprecedented hardship.” She broke from the script. “This is a radical concept,” she said, laughing. “Hold onto your seats. The State of New York and the City of New York will work together.”
“Isn’t it great to have a Governor who gets it?” Rosenthal asked the exuberant crowd. “Signing this bill into law signals a significant shift in the way that New York State approaches homelessness prevention.”
Steve Banks, the city’s commissioner of homeless services under Mayor de Blasio, who spoke, “alluded to the fact that for years former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resisted expanding the housing subsidy,” according to the Daily News, and that Hochul was taking a step toward solving “a long-term problem with a solution that’s been in plain sight for a long time.”