Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Albany to expand one of its anti-eviction assistance programs to increase payouts and to cover people fleeing violent homes.
The mayor made his plea at an event at City Hall styled as a “roundtable” on domestic violence. At issue was the state’s Family Eviction Prevention Supplement, which offers $1,050 a month to families struggling to pay to stay in their apartments.
Mr. de Blasio asserted that the subsidy should increase to $1,515—in line with a federal estimate of the bare minimum needed to rent in New York City—and noted that the state hasn’t updated the monthly allowance in a decade. He also argued that Albany should make it available to people escaping abusive partners.
“Think about that for a moment: people who literally are in danger—maybe they didn’t go through the traditional dynamic of eviction, in their dealing with a landlord—but they’re having the exact same outcome, they suddenly don’t have a home,” he said. “For so many families, domestic violence immediately means that the survivor and often the survivor’s children become homeless. It’s tragically automatic in so many cases. Because of course the survivor cannot stay in the same home as the batterer, and there often is no other alternative.”
Mr. de Blasio praised Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for including both reforms in his budget proposal, and called upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Republican State Senate to do the same. Steven Banks, commissioner of the Human Resources Administration, argued that the state could access $35.6 million in federal funding if it committed $8.3 million to the program—and if the city chipped in $19.7 million, which Mr. Banks said it was prepared to do.
Mr. Banks—who, like his boss, has had a fraught relationship with the Cuomo administration—claimed conversations with the governor and the State Senate had been “productive,” but not fruitful.
“The message was very simple: we want to address homelessness in this city that’s built up over years. In particular we want to keep people in their homes so that more people can remain out of the system,” he said. “We want to help survivors of domestic violence, and we want to help people move out of the shelters so we can address the numbers of people that built up over a number of years.”
Mr. Cuomo has jabbed the mayor repeatedly over New York’s swelling homeless population, going so far as to put Comptroller Scott Stringer, another de Blasio rival, in charge of generating a report and recommendations on the city shelter system. The governor also committed $20 billion over the next five years to affordable housing and homelessness services statewide in his budget proposal for this year.
The governor’s office told the Observer it was “closely monitoring” an ongoing lawsuit over who can receive state rental assistance.
“We’ve made that clear to the city,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.
The final budget is due April 1.