After squabbling with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over funding for supportive housing, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced plans to move ahead on his own, launching a $2.6 billion program that will build 15,000 units of housing for the homeless.
“The City of New York is acting. We’re acting decisively. We are not waiting on Albany,” Mr. de Blasio said today at a press conference in the lobby of a supportive housing building.
Mr. de Blasio’s press conference today took on the tone of a campaign rally, with advocates for the homeless, mentally ill, substance abusers and veterans cheering him on as he discussed the need for housing that could help those vulnerable individuals get back on their feet. If there was an opponent to run against, it seemed it might be Mr. Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio’s most prominent political enemy despite their shared party.
The governor and the mayor have been fighting for months over the funding for the NY/NY program, which has seen the city and the state work together to provide supportive housing for the homeless. Mr. de Blasio went to Albany to ask for 12,000 units to be built over 10 years, but the state responded with an offer of 3,900 units over seven years, something the city deemed insufficient. But perhaps the bigger disconnect was over how much of the tab for operating costs each government should pick up—the city wanted to contribute just 20 percent to the state’s 80 percent, as it has in the past, while the state was calling for a 50/50 split.
Mr. de Blasio will now pick up the full cost of his own 15-year program to build 15,000 units, but he and others standing alongside him repeatedly called on the state to do more. That comes after Mr. Cuomo said the same of the city earlier this year. “I think the city should spend more,” he said.
The plan calls for about 7,500 newly constructed apartment buildings and 7,500 “scattered site units.” It will cost $2.6 billion in capital funds over 15 years, of which $1 billion will be a city cost. Of that, all but $380 million has already been budgeted through the mayor’s affordable housing plan, which includes funding for supportive housing. The remaining $1.6 billion in capital funds will be offset by low-income tax credits and other private sources, which the mayor’s budget director said today will largely be costs paid by developers. The city will also pay operating costs of $96 million through fiscal year 2019, starting with $8.8 million the first year and ramping up from there.