With the City’s homeless population at an all-time high, RSA has pledged support behind two proposals in the State Legislature that could help remedy the crisis throughout the five boroughs and keep tenants in their homes.
One proposal, known as the Home Stability Support Program, is currently being sponsored by Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Bronx/Westchester Senator Jeff Klein. The proposal aims to provide Federal and State-funded rent supplements to public-assistance eligible tenants who might be facing eviction or homelessness.
Although the program is a statewide initiative, a large portion of the 80,000 households that Home Stability Support hopes to aid are in New York City. The program would not only keep thousands of tenants in their homes, but would ease the burden on City taxpayers who are currently funding millions of dollars in failed housing policies that have resulted in a record number of homeless people.
In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan that would build 90 new homeless shelters throughout the City to help curb the City’s homeless population. The proposal was met with concern from RSA and many elected officials throughout the City who believe that the proposal is not a proper long-term solution and would require millions of additional taxpayer dollars in order to achieve. RSA strongly believes that the goal should be to provide homeless people with a permanent residence, as well as help those struggling financially with proper rental supplements they need to remain in their homes.
Although the Home Stability Support Program would cost approximately $450 million, the burden would not rest exclusively on City taxpayers. The construction of new City homeless shelters, as well as additional money invested into City-funded subsidy programs, would be solely on the backs of the City’s taxpayers. Keeping tenants in their homes through the Home Stability Support Program would be a win-win situation for both tenants and rental property owners. To read more about the Home Stability Support Program, visit http://www.homestabilitysupport.com/.
Another proposal, known as the Tenant Rent Increase Exemption (TRIE) program, has also received the support of RSA. The proposal, which is being sponsored by State Senator Cathy Young, would create a Citywide rent subsidy program that would allow any rent regulated tenant residing in the five boroughs who earns less than $50,000 per year and is paying over 50% of their income in rent to become eligible for a permanent rent freeze.
The proposal is very similar to the existing Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs. However, there will be no age or disability requirements to qualify for the program. Any tenant who meets the criteria of the proposed TRIE program would have their rents frozen and all future increases enacted by the City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) would be reimbursed to the property owner through real property tax abatements.
RSA has said time after time that the true cause of tenants not being able to afford their rent is not a result of excessive rent costs, but because of inadequate incomes. After two years of rent freezes and only a 1% increase in the last three years, many tenants in rent-stabilized apartments continue to struggle paying their rent. As a result, RSA believes this proposal is a far better solution to aiding all tenants that are income-burdened, rather than Mayor de Blasio encouraging the RGB to continue freezing rents on one-year leases.
Although the TRIE proposal seems like the perfect solution for all tenants struggling to meet their rent, the bill has failed to obtain support from major tenant advocates including Mayor de Blasio and the pro-tenant members of the State Assembly. In fact, the bill has passed the State Senate unanimously but has failed to gain the same support in the Assembly. Mayor de Blasio and other pro-tenant elected officials would rather prioritize political ploy rather than support sound policies that truly help tenants. For more on the proposed TRIE bill, visit http://bit.ly/2mOfwQJ.
We will keep you posted of further developments of these two proposals in upcoming editions of the RSA Reporter.