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On Homeless Fight, State Says to City: 'Next Year'

Monday, March 24, 2014

WNYC
(Luca Moglia/flickr)

As New York City's homeless population hits a record high — with 52,267 people in the shelter system as of last week— the de Blasio administration wants to pilot a program that would offer rental subsidies to families living in shelters where at least one family member works full-time. But the program needs approval and money from Albany.

"State funding is something that we absolutely must secure in order to have more tools in our toolbox to help folks exit from shelter," said new Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor at a City Council budget hearing on Tuesday. 

Taylor said the first step was for state officials to remove language from state law that would prevent the city from using state money for a new rental subsidy program. He said his staff met with state lawmakers last week and plan to meet with them again in Albany on Tuesday.

But it may be a wasted trip. 

"As everyone knows, the budget is due in less than a week," said Melissa DeRosa, spokeswoman for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, via email. "We assume the city's proposal will be for next year because at this point it's too late to take up anything significant this year."

A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said it was critical for the city and the state to work together.

Patrick Markee, Coalition for the Homeless senior policy analyst, said there's nothing to stop Albany from acting now.

"Given the record levels of New York homelessness, especially among children and families, we cannot afford to wait another year to deal with this crisis."

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