October 11, 2023
CONTACT: Mariah McGough, firstname.lastname@example.org, 203 470 9979
100+ ADVOCATES AND LAWMAKERS CALL FOR STATEWIDE RIGHT TO SHELTER, PERMANENT HOUSING SOLUTIONS IN RESPONSE TO RECORD NUMBER PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS IN NYS
Everyone, Regardless of Immigration Status or Zip Code Deserves a Safe, Affordable Place to Live
NEW YORK, NY — Today, a crowd of over 100 lawmakers, advocates, tenants, and homeless New Yorkers joined together at Governor Hochul’s Manhattan Office to call on her to enforce statewide right to shelter, invest in rental assistance and tenant protections, and create a path to social housing for all. Advocates demanded safe, stable housing for all New Yorkers, including both longtime natives and new arrivals.
Governor Hochul formally announced her support of Major Adams’ attempts to roll back Right to Shelter earlier today, which would force even more New Yorkers onto the streets and into hazardous conditions. Advocates called attention to the lack of real, long-lasting solutions to the housing crisis from both the Governor or the Mayor, putting up a tent with “Kathy Hochul and Eric Adams’ housing plan” written on it.
Public officials in attendance included Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
As rents and evictions skyrocket, New York’s homeless population has increased to a level not seen since the Great Depression, increasing the burden on the shelter system and leaving no space for new arrivals in need of emergency housing. Instead of working towards solutions to the housing crisis to address the needs of new arrivals and longtime New Yorkers, Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul have pointed fingers and laid blame on President Biden. In fact, both executives have taken actions to worsen the housing crisis, from working to undo the Right to Shelter to refusing to support tenant protections to pushing rent hikes for rent stabilized tenants.
Advocates called for:
- The enforcement of statewide Right to Shelter;
- The passage of Good Cause Evictions, which would protect tenants from rent hikes and unjust evictions;
- The creation of the Housing Access Voucher Program, which would provide rental assistance to homeless New Yorkers and tenants at risk of eviction; and
- A massive buildout of Green Social Housing to create safe, affordable housing for all New Yorkers and generate well-paying union jobs.
Good Cause Eviction and the Housing Access Voucher Program nearly passed as part of a housing package during the state legislative session this year, but Governor Hochul refused to support either piece of legislation.
Now more than ever, the entire state of New York needs Right to Shelter and comprehensive solutions to the housing crisis. This is a moment for our city and state to mobilize public resources to meet the moment – not to pit new New Yorkers against those who’ve lived here longer, and certainly not to cut back on critical services and infrastructure.
The rally was coordinated by tenant and homeless groups VOCAL-NY, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Housing Works, Coalition for the Homeless, the Met Council on Housing, Community Voices Heard, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
“We need real solutions to the housing crisis that are going to meet the needs of both the New Yorkers who’ve been suffering under the housing crisis for years and new New Yorkers struggling to find stable shelter now,” said Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator for Housing Justice for All. “But instead of taking decisive action, our Governor and our Mayor have been pointing fingers – and even taking steps to make our housing crisis worse. It’s past time for our leaders to step up and pass Good Cause Evictions and the Housing Access Voucher Program — and build Green Social Housing.”
“Last we checked, New York City is part of New York State. We need Governor Hochul to step up and find true solutions to help both new arrivals and homeless New Yorkers, including expanding shelter capacity and moving families into permanent housing. New York City cannot and should not be left on its own when, as the Governor has said, there are thousands of job openings across the state and communities who would welcome new workers and families.” said Dave Giffen, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless. “It’s time for the Governor to show leadership and work with the City on a comprehensive resettlement plan.”
“We must lead by example – New York must expand Right to Shelter because everyone should have a roof over their head,” said Milton Perez, Homelessness Union Leader at VOCAL-NY. “If Mayor Adams dismantles this mandate and Governor Hochul continues to block housing solutions, our crisis will get worse – not better.”
“It’s extremely frustrating to see the Governor and Mayor continue to scapegoat asylum seekers to try to suspend right-to-shelter protections that have been fundamental to our City’s housing laws for decades. We have had a housing and shelter crisis for far too long and our government has turned a blind eye, this cannot continue. We must invest in real long term solutions such as HAVP and Good Cause, as well as the development of real affordable housing. The City and state have a moral obligation to do the right thing and step up to provide support—not put New Yorkers old and new, at grave risk and onto the streets. Everyone deserves a safe roof over their heads,” shared Jennifer Hernandez, lead organizer at Make the Road New York.
“New York is experiencing a severe housing crisis that has already left so many of my community members insecure,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes. “Rents are skyrocketing, we must support a greater influx of migrant New Yorkers, and long gone are the COVID-era tenant protections. With little relief in sight, there still remains the opportunity to help lifelong New Yorkers remain in their homes. Our State and City leadership needs to step up and protect our State’s Right to Shelter and pass critical pieces of housing legislation such as Good Cause Eviction and the Housing Access Voucher Program that we know too well will keep all vulnerable New Yorkers housed.”
“The Right to Shelter has served as a lifeline for decades ensuring that vulnerable people have access to refuge from the elements,” said Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “These protections are rooted in New York State’s Constitution, specifically the State’s duty to care for the needy, and it must be extended statewide. Failing to do so could balloon suffering and street homelessness to levels unseen in our state since the Great Depression.”
“The Torah is replete with commandments about how we are to treat the ger toshav – the stranger who has come to dwell within one’s community – and who is to be afforded safety, protection, and great care. By recognizing the fundamental human right to shelter, New York City has long served as an example to the rest of the country about what it means to show up for our newest neighbors and houseless new yorkers – to ensure their wellbeing and flourishing. This is not the moment to abandon historically homeless and undocumented New Yorkers, nor to turn away from migrants turning to our city for shelter. The act of welcome in Judaism is not one of empty words: it is a mandate and a commitment.” said Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson, of Tirdof: New York Jewish Clergy for Justice, a project of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and Jews For Racial & Economic Justice.