March 10, 2020
In the city especially, the cost of rent is skyrocketing and incomes are stagnant. Thousands of homeless families are languishing in shelters, commercial hotels, or doubled up in apartments. Landlords, tenants, and housing advocates all agree that the best option to reduce the 70% of shelter residents who are families with children lies in a transformative piece of legislation in Albany called, Home Stability Support.
The bill would offer a state-wide rent subsidy for households receiving public assistance and facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. If passed, it would serve as a critical bridge for the gap between current subsidies and the cost of New York’s sky-high rents.
The family housing subsidy is also smart fiscal policy. New York City currently pays an average of $38,460 to house a family of three in a shelter, but a voucher under the legislation for that same family would only cost an average of $11,224 — less than a third of the cost.
A rental subsidy that actually reflects the cost of housing would be a win for landlords, too, who would be guaranteed rental income from their tenants.
In addition to the mounting financial cost of keeping families in shelters and commercial hotels, there is also tremendous human cost. Families entering shelter are often fleeing domestic violence or other dangerous conditions. Losing a place to live and entering shelter exacerbates trauma and devastates families, and especially young children.
Without a consistent roof overhead, or room to play and study, students are more likely to drop out of school, grapple with mental health issues, and face homelssness as adults. The one in 10 New York City school students experiencing homlessness regularly have to travel great distances across the city to get to their school, and absenteeism rates spike as a result. Through no fault of their own, children get trapped in the vicious cycle of homelessness without ever getting an opportunity to reach their full potential.
If a family can maintain their housing during a crisis and be near their community with sufficient support networks, the faster they can bounce back. The more we’re able to prevent instability before it starts, the more families we can spare from that trauma and the more taxpayers will save in the long run.
Home Stability Support offers the state a viable opportunity to combat the growing crisis of family homelssness and provide thousands of at-risk families with the resources they need to stay on the path to long-term stability and well-being.The choice is clear. It makes clear economic sense — and it’s simply the right thing to do for New York children and families.