July 10, 2015

Assembly Leads Fight For Increased Supportive Housing

New York State Assembly Social Services Chair Andrew Hevesi today released a bi-partisan letter to Governor Cuomo signed by 133 members calling for the development of 35,000 new units of supportive housing by 2025 to address the state's growing homelessness crisis.

"Supportive housing has proved to be an effective solution to homelessness by providing the necessary services to keep people out of shelters and off the streets," said Speaker Carl Heastie. "For the chronically homeless, supportive housing offers not only a stable, permanent home, but also a support system to put them on the path to a stable life."

"Supportive housing is vital for combatting chronic homelessness and the factors that keep thousands of New Yorkers without a home," said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, chair of the Social Services Committee. "It is the logical solution to homelessness - supportive housing provides stable homes and support services to those in need. It will save taxpayer dollars as it is more cost-effective than relying on homeless shelters and, most importantly, it works."

In the letter, the members express their support to provide 23,350 units for adults, 10,150 units for families and 1,500 units for youth. New Yorkers pioneered supportive housing as a solution to homelessness in the 1980s, and New York State and New York City have jointly financed over 14,000 supportive housing units since 1990. In the first five years of the most recent supportive housing agreement, chronic homelessness among adults was reduced by 47 percent. More than 86 percent of New York / New York III tenants remained stably housed after one year.

Since the start of the last supportive housing agreement a decade ago, however, the number of homeless New Yorkers in municipal shelters has nearly doubled. In New York City alone, 60,000 New Yorkers - including 25,000 children - sleep in homeless shelters each night. Thousands more sleep on the streets. Since May 2006, when there were 31,350 individuals staying in shelters each night, the homeless shelter census has risen by 93 percent. It is estimated that the unmet annual need for supportive housing is 24,100 units.

Supportive housing has been shown to dramatically reduce homelessness. It is especially helpful for people living with disabilities and chronic health conditions and for those leaving foster care, shelters, psychiatric facilities and addiction treatment programs. Within the first year, detoxification visits decreased by 82 percent, emergency room use decreased by 58 percent and hospitalizations decreased by 57 percent.

Days spent incarcerated decreased by as much as a week. Not only does supportive housing help fight chronic homelessness, it also lowers public costs and helps neighborhoods. Public costs for each homeless individual moving into supportive housing dropped by $10,100 on average, after taking into account housing and service costs. When homeless patients were transferred from hospitals to supportive housing, taxpayers' costs were reduced by near $47,000 per patient.

For chronically homeless adults with disabilities in rural areas, public costs decreased:

Supportive housing has been shown to increase property values and encourage growth in neighborhoods after opening. The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found that properties closest to supportive housing increased in value and experienced strong, steady growth in the following years. Real estate values increased in neighborhoods with supportive housing more than those for comparable properties located further from supportive housing units in both high- and low-density neighborhoods.