Mayor Bill de Blasio ripped several of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposals regarding homelessness in New York City, arguing the governor’s ideas will worsen the spiraling crisis.
Testifying at a joint session of the Assembly and State Senate budget committees, Mr. de Blasio favorably quoted Mr. Cuomo calling the homelessness situation a “disgrace” in his State of the State address. But he lashed out at the governor’s proposal to slash funding for state programs aimed at helping struggling families remain in their apartments, a paring back that would apply only to New York City.
“We are also asking the state not to do something. It should reject, the legislature should reject, an ill-considered proposal in the governor’s budget for homeless programs,” Mr. de Blasio said, claiming it could leave 500 city families in shelters or on the street. “That would take us backward. That money would provide shelter for 500 families a year. Without state support, that’s 500 more families in a much worse circumstance.”
Mr. de Blasio also blasted Mr. Cuomo’s recommended restructuring of a 2005 supportive housing initiative, which created some 9,000 units of shelter for homeless people suffering from mental illness, HIV infection and substance addiction. The mayor argued that the governor’s call for halving the number of new units and for the city to pay for half the cost of the program, known as NY/NY III, going forward would leave the program in desperate straits.
“The funds he included for NY/NY for housing for the homeless are important, but not nearly equal to the enormous needs,” Mr. de Blasio said, noting the shelter population is 58,000. “We also strongly object to the request that the city fund half the operating cost of these units, something that was not done in the past. The program should be structured like NY/NY III and provide full state operating funds for these units.”
Mr. de Blasio asked the legislature to instead to commit to creating 12,000 new units through NY/NY and for $32 million in rental assistance programs.
New York State is unique in that its constitution guarantees a right to some form of housing, which has often left local shelter systems severely taxed.
The Assembly, dominated by New York City Democrats, is likely to be receptive to Mr. de Blasio’s requests. The State Senate, which is in the hands of upstate and Long Island Republicans, has indicated that it is less interested in assisting the mayor in his agenda—especially since Mr. de Blasio unsuccessfully sought to help Democrats take over the body last year.
Mr. Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.