The Campaign for New York/New York Housing
By Nora MClaughlin and Carla Rabinowitz, Community Access, Inc.
Hundreds March for Housing for New York's Most Vulnerable
Tourists and businessmen alike could not help but tune their ears to choruses of: “Governor Cuomo hear our cries! Supportive housing saves lives!” and “What do we need?” “Housing!” “When do we need it?” “Now!”
At 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 12, 2015, over 300 individuals gathered to march outside Governor Cuomo’s Midtown office to demand 35,000 more units of supportive housing be built throughout the state of New York over the next ten years.
The Campaign for New York/New York Housing is the fourth of its kind and aims to provide permanent housing combined with support services for mental health recipients, people who are homeless and vulnerable populations of New York (e.g. domestic violence survivors, those with HIV/AIDS and at-risk youth).
Passionate members of the community attended the rally, adorned with appropriately-decorated t-shirts and posters, to peacefully motivate change throughout New York.
Along with saving the lives of thousands of New Yorkers, the implementation of the Campaign for New York/New York’s platform would also enhance property values and save tax dollars. Based on evidence from similar initiatives in the past, it is clear that real estate values increase for properties surrounding supportive housing developments. Additionally, for each new unit of supportive housing, $10,100 in taxpayer dollars is saved yearly. “Supportive housing solves homelessness, improves neighborhoods, and saves tax dollars.”
With such documented success, supportive housing seems like a clear replacement for more traditional and expensive methods of institutionalization and/or imprisonment. However, Governor Cuomo’s proposal addressing this issue calls only for 5,000 additional units of supportive housing, in comparison to the 35,000 units the campaign demands. The governor’s proposal is not nearly sufficient in a state where currently only one in every five eligible applicants can be awarded supportive housing, and where homelessness is only on the rise.
The campaign has support from a multitude of high-profile organizations. This year’s organizer, Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless, attracted representatives from his own company to attend the event, as well as individuals from Community Access, VOCAL-NY, Housing Works, and more.
Hundreds of residents of the local homeless shelters and city supportive housing units stood with the Campaign for New York/New York Housing in an effort to improve quality of life for their own communities. There is nobody more qualified to demand change than those experiencing its absence firsthand.
At around 11:30 the rally concluded with a march across the street to a public piece of sidewalk. Participants gathered and promised to continue to fight for the passage of the Campaign for New York/New York’s platform for supportive housing. As the crowd dispersed, a sense of hope lingered.