Jennifer Fermino | April 7, 2015
Homelessness could be a thing of the past in New York City in five years if the city and state take a few crucial steps — including raising the minimum wage, according to a report advocates are releasing Tuesday.
The report from “Homes for Every New Yorkers” — a coalition of activist groups — also recommends that Mayor de Blasio put aside 10% of all units in his affordable housing plan for shelter residents, invest in more programs to prevent tenants from becoming homeless and give more NYCHA housing to the homeless.
The coalition — including VOCAL-NY, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless — will unveil the report at a rally at City Hall.
“The point is to get a real, deep commitment to ending homelessness,” said Jennifer Flynn, executive director of VOCAL-NY.
“It’s not an entrenched problem. We think there’s people in his administration that recognize this.”
One of the prime factors in the historic rise in homelessness — now at its highest since the Great Depression — is the “widening gap between housing costs and incomes,” according to the report.
That’s why raising the minimum wage is so important, it argues.
“Nearly one-third of homeless families sleeping each night in the New York City shelter system are working . . . but most are trapped in low-wage jobs, such as security guards, fast-food workers, home health aides and retail sales workers,” the report said.
De Blasio wants a $15 minimum wage in the city, but his push faces an uphill battle in Albany, which controls the rate.
Gov. Cuomo supports increasing the minimum wage in New York City to $11.50.
“We’re going to have a day pretty soon where we have 100,000 people in our shelters,” Flynn said. “New York doesn’t have the infrastructure for that.”
Currently, just under 60,000 people a night are being housed in city shelters.
City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), said ending homelessness was an ambitious goal.
“It would take a lot of resources, but this is solvable,” said Levin, chairman of the General Welfare Committee.