Wall Street Journal:
Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is seeking $40 million in state funding to launch a new rental subsidy program to combat an unprecedented level of homelessness in New York City, part of a multifaceted policy proposal that officials plan to outline Monday.
Gilbert Taylor, commissioner of the city's Department of Homeless Services, is scheduled to provide the most detailed accounting of the administration's plans to reduce homelessness when he testifies before the City Council at a budget oversight hearing Monday. As of last week, more than 53,000 people, including nearly 23,000 children, slept in city shelters, city records show.
While the mayor's aides said they hope the new policy prescriptions will ultimately reduce the shelter census, officials didn't provide any specific targets to judge whether the administration's efforts are successful. It was also unclear how quickly some of these initiatives could move forward, in part because the city must seek state approvals.
"The status quo is simply not working, and our city cannot afford to ignore our fellow New Yorkers in need," Mr. de Blasio said in an email sent via his spokesman.
At the center of the administration's plans is a proposal to create a new rental assistance program to help families move out of city shelters. The initiative would cost $80 million over four years, with half the money coming from the city and the other half from the state. In 2011, the state stopped funding a much-larger rental subsidy program, called Advantage, which resulted in the program's cancellation and a dramatic increase in the shelter population.
This new program would target families who have been in a city shelter for more than one year and have an adult working 35 hours a week with a record of continuous employment for several months, according to interviews with city officials and excerpts of Mr. Taylor's testimony. It would serve 801 families annually (for a total of 3,204 over the four years); these families would receive a three-year subsidy, with an option to renew for another two years.