ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t followed through on pledges to stem the growing number of New Yorkers who are homeless, despite the billions the Democrat claims is being invested in affordable and supportive housing across the state, advocates said Monday.
About two dozen homeless New Yorkers and advocates joined state lawmakers Monday at the Capitol to bring attention to the issue and discuss legislative initiatives aimed at alleviating homelessness.
Members of Brooklyn-based VOCAL-NY said the governor isn’t doing enough to back up pledges made in recent years to spend billions of dollars for affordable housing, shelters and rental subsidies. The critics of Cuomo’s efforts say it’s not clear where the funding is going and how many homeless people are being housed under his plan.
Nearly 90,000 people are living in homeless shelters across the state, about 60,000 in New York City and the rest in upstate New York, the advocates said.
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“It’s a moral cause,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who’s among the legislators supporting a measure that would create a new statewide rent supplement for low-income families and individuals facing homelessness because of domestic violence and hazardous conditions.
“We’re here to look after the folks who need help,” he said.
In 2016, Cuomo announced a five-year, $20 billion initiative to create affordable housing and support services for the homeless. The homeless problem continued to grow throughout 2017, with about 88,000 people living in shelters, according to the state’s own estimates.
Among them is Nathylin Flowers Adesegun, a 71-year-old retired Wall Street accounting firm office manager. She said she was evicted two years ago from her Brooklyn apartment when her landlord tripled the rent and has been living in a Queens homeless shelter ever since.
“We kept that neighborhood alive for 40 years,” she said of her former home in Brooklyn’s Flatbush section. She and other advocates are pushing Cuomo and lawmakers to expand taxes on millionaires and billionaires to help fund affordable housing programs in the city and elsewhere.
Cuomo’s office said his efforts to address the state’s homeless problem are the most ambitious ever, including an affordable housing plan that has committed funding for 2,500 units, and remains on track to create 6,000 units over five years.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, said Cuomo’s record of delivering for homeless New Yorkers is “second to none — we’ll leave the grandstanding and empty promises to the advocates.”