State Budget Expected to Provide Relief for Homeless, but Advocates Say It's Still Not Enough
With a record number of homeless people living in shelters and on the streets, the new state budget is expected to provide some relief, but advocates say it's still not enough. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
There are an estimated 60,000 homeless people in New York City, roughly half of whom are children. Some are in shelters. Others try their luck on the street.
Many believe the problem is only getting worse without any easy solution in sight.
In the new state budget passed this month, the state has allocated roughly $440 million to help reduce the city's homeless population.
"It's for homelessness prevention," said Assemblyman Michael Blake of the Bronx. "How do you help actually transition someone when they're in a homeless shelter back into a permanent state of living? A lot of times, that's been the fundamental challenge."
Advocates, though, say the problem is only growing, and that the city and the state need to work together to find a long-term solution.
"We need the governor to partner with the Mayor on a real New York New York for agreement that will create 30,000 units of permanent supportive housing for our most vulnerable homeless individuals and families," said Partick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless.
Some believe the city and state should provide more direct subsidies for rent. The state budget does offer $15 million to help prevent evictions.
"The best way to deal with homelessness is to provide someone with a home, as opposed to providing subsidies so that we can build luxury housing in the city of New York," said Public Advocate Letitia James.
New York can also be a magnet for runaway youth. The budget provides $4.5 million for these services, roughly double what it was last year.
"Within this $440 million, there is a historic increase in funding for runaway and homeless youth," said Assemblyman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan. "Runaway and homeless youth programs serve thousands of children, young adults who run away."
Advocates say another component in this is raising the minimum wage, since many homeless families are actually working but could no longer afford to stay in their homes. Democrats want to increase the minimum wage statewide, but they have been met with stiff opposition from Republicans in the state Senate.