Mayor Adams faces one of the first major tests of his administration with the highly anticipated release of his annual city budget on July 1. eviction And the homelessness be increasing In New York City again. With all pandemic-era eviction bans now lifted, housing courts are seeing hundreds of eviction cases filed each week. Tenants also face pressure The skyrocketing rise in market rents And a limited stock of affordable housing.
The budget presents a critical opportunity: By fully funding the agencies and related assistance programs, we can stem the rising tide of evictions and keep more New Yorkers in stable homes.
There is no doubt that the current housing challenges have been exacerbated by the state of major city agencies. These include the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) — all of whom find themselves severely understaffed due to the demand they face. Additionally, contract workers in New York City are They get uniformly low salariesresulting in high employee turnover and vacancy rates.
All New Yorkers feel the crisis. In the Department of Human Development, staffing shortages have slowed housing production, with the long-term impact of delaying delivery of much-needed supportive and affordable housing. The department now has fewer housing inspectors. 131 vacancies, to be exact – which already has serious implications for building safety and habitability. The Department of Homeland Security, which works to prevent homelessness and connect the homeless to housing, is currently understaffed Up to 118 people. This number includes workers processing rental assistance requests, slowing down the issuance of pay slips. Because of the subsidy, some New Yorkers are staying in the shelter system for longer than necessary, because DHS doesn’t have enough staff to hire urgently needed to process applications for permanent housing.
The shortage has exacerbated existing procedural challenges. HRA, which operates social services, has switched from providing in-person assistance to virtual assistance, which is now provided by an app. But the app cannot approve all requests for rental assistance, particularly for assistance programs that contribute significantly to housing stability, which means it cannot replace human workers. Prior to the downsizing, HRA appointed representatives to housing courts and other locations, which allowed “One Shot Deal” Rental Emergency Assistance Requests to be processed immediately. These on-site resources are no longer available, and with helpers hard to come by, many families who qualify for rental assistance are falling through the cracks.
Such gaps only widen with mandatory Agency spending cuts recently proposed by Adams. Far from being a necessary measure for economic recovery, sweeping cuts by agencies like HPD and HRA/DHS will likely lead to more homelessness as New Yorkers face an unnecessary bottleneck in accessing affordable housing. The City must reverse these cuts and commit to fully fund Human Resources and HRA/DHS, in order to restore staff numbers and Ensuring that its contract workers receive a living wage.
Finally, Adams should invest more in a housing support known as CityFHEPS. CityFHEPS, a vital social safety net, provides rent assistance supplement to New Yorkers who are homeless or at risk of eviction. For a two-bedroom apartment, this comes to about $2,500. But CityFHEPS is now at risk of underfunding; IBO estimates that at least $35 million more than Adams initially identified is needed to fully fund the program, especially as market prices continue to rise. And while solid rental assistance financing is very important, many landlords illegally refuse to accept such vouchers. At the same time, the unit of discrimination on the basis of source of income in the Human Resources Department was effectively abolished after cuts and vacancies resulted in them having no employees. It is important that we reverse this trend and re-hire the SOI unit, whose functions are different from that of employees in human rights commission.
Homelessness was increasing and affordable housing became scarcer in New York City long before the arrival of COVID-19. But the pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated these crises. The city must not now impede the ability of its agencies to respond to New Yorkers seeking stable housing. President Biden known to say, “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” The Adams administration must now show that it appreciates keeping New Yorkers consistently housed. We join a coalition of more than 80 organizations calling on Adams to honor his campaign promise to invest $4 billion annually in housing capital, no 2.5 billion In the year he promised so far and allocate the necessary funding to make sure that our housing agencies and assistance programs can be available to everyone who needs them.
Halm is Vice President and President of the New York Market for Enterprise Community Partners. Trapani is the CEO of Homeless Services United.