November 3, 2022
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LAWMAKERS, STUDENTS, AND PARENTS MARCH TO DEMAND THE CITY AND STATE CREATE PERMANENT HOUSING FOR 104K STUDENTS WITHOUT HOMES
NEW YORK — Today, advocates marched in Sunset Park following the release of new Department of Education data showing that more than 104,000 New York City public school students don’t have a permanent place to call home. Advocates called on Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, and City and State lawmakers to back policies like the Housing Access Voucher Program rental assistance and the Good Cause bill, which would protect tenants from unjust eviction and exorbitant rent hikes.
“Our shelter system is ill equipped, but we already knew that,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes. “We knew that when the pandemic hit, and yet we allowed the eviction moratorium to end at the beginning of this year. We have been ringing the alarm for months about what would happen, and on top of that, no one predicted the influx of migrants. But as a government we need to step up and provide housing solutions.”
“The fact that more than 100,000 children in New York don’t have a roof over their heads is a policy failure that rests squarely on the shoulders of Eric Adams and Kathy Hochul,” said Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator for Housing Justice for All. “We know what it takes to keep New Yorkers housed: meaningful protections from eviction and price gouging, and rental assistance to help people at the bottom of the income ladder get access to housing. What’s missing is political will. If we want our students to succeed, we need our leaders to stop caving to the real estate lobby and pass real protections for New York tenants.”
“When I entered the shelter system — with a voucher in hand — my son was 17 and I was separated from him because they put him in an adult shelter,” said Charisma White with VOCAL-NY and Neighbors Together. “My son died by an overdose in an SRO from a lethal dose of drugs. Even though I expressed to Mayor Adams that it was unfair that they were separating me from my child, they still pushed him into a single men’s shelter. I lost my son this year because of that. We need to house everybody so that our youth aren’t lost, and dead and gone.”
“At 21 years old, I’ve moved 18 or 19 times,” said Emma Rehac, Founding Director of Youth Alliance for Housing (YAH). “I’ve felt the deep impact of redlining, of gentrification, of rising rent. I’ve lived in a building with sewage leaks and mold in the walls. I’m here to build the power of young people in the tennants movement. Housing is youth justice, is racial justice, is social justice.”
Children without stable housing struggle in school, often being forced to transfer schools frequently and repeat grades. High rates of eviction have been tied to lower test scores, poorer attendance, and even a slower pace of instruction overall. In the 2020-2021 school year in New York, students who lived in shelters dropped out at three times the rate of those who were permanently housed.
The rally comes in the midst of a growing housing crisis in New York. Rents across New York City rose more than 30% from 2021 to 2022, and evictions are climbing back to pre-pandemic levels. The crisis has grown so severe that there are no lawyers left to represent New Yorkers who are being kicked out of their homes.
The march took place in Sunset Park, which is facing a wave of gentrification that could displace hundreds of families in coming years. The state and city have invested in improvements to the neighborhood, such as a new high school and subway station overhaul, but these improvements could help accelerate the displacement of working families and homelessness in the neighborhood without additional protections for tenants.