New York State is facing the worst homeless crisis since the Great Depression. There are around 89,000 homeless people living in shelters across the state—the highest number ever recorded. Thousands more are living on the streets, in three-quarter houses, or doubled- and tripled-up in apartments.
Under Governor Cuomo, New York State’s homeless population increased by 37%. While most attention has been focused on New York City, communities across the state have faced massive increases in homelessness: in Long Island homelessness increased by 20%; Albany has seen homelessness increase by 23%; Binghamton has seen homelessness increase by 31%; and Rochester has seen homelessness increase by 18%.
The State’s budget, tax, and policy priorities have led to a massive withdrawal of State resources to address extreme income inequality and homelessness. Further, the creation of affordable housing and supportive housing has been wholly inadequate, and in some cases delayed or entirely withheld. At a time of record need, New York State must act by doing the following:
- Fully fund and create 20,000 units of supportive housing. Supportive housing breaks the cycle of homelessness by pairing permanent housing with on-site services for people with a history of substance abuse, and/or who have mental and physical health needs.
- Fully fund the Homes Stability Support (HSS) program (A8178): HSS is a new statewide rent supplement for low-income families and individuals who are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. HSS would help bridge the difference between public assistance shelter allowance and fair market rents.
- Expand access to the HIV Enhanced Shelter Allowance for low-income HIV-positive New Yorkers living outside of New York City by investing $9 million for homeless or unstably housed, or through the passage of legislation introduced by Senator Hoylman and Assembly Member Hevesi (S.5534B).
Our state has the resources to pay for ending the homeless crisis – but that takes stronger leadership and better government, too. With the right tax and budget policies, we could tackle homelessness:
- Impose a New York City land value tax on luxury condos and development: New York real estate has soared in value, while homelessness has risen. A new land tax on luxury housing could result in billions of dollars in needed revenue for housing and rental assistance.
- Enact a mansion tax on the sale of properties over two million dollars in the highest-wealth neighborhoods in NYC: midtown Manhattan, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights and maybe downtown Brooklyn.
- Close the Pied-a-terre Tax Abatement Loophole so that luxury Manhattan apartment owners from out of state or overseas who do not live full-time in their multi-million-dollar condos do not receive special tax breaks, that cost our state millions.
These fair-share tax measures could raise more than $3.2 billion in revenue to pay for critical housing programs and to ensure that 89,000 New Yorkers are permanently rehoused.