By David Brand
A Queens lawmaker who has long championed a rental subsidy to stem the state’s homeless crisis, condemned a “Trumpian” letter from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the MTA, which urged the transit agency to do more to stop homeless New Yorkers from sleeping in subway cars.
“It’s absurd, the notion that he, the governor, who should be stopping the homeless crisis from growing, is telling an agency that he controls that they’re not doing enough,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi. “It’s the height of hypocrisy and very Trumpian.”
Hevesi has sponsored a bill to create the Home Stability Support program, a rental subsidy that would enable families at risk of eviction to avoid becoming homeless
“The man who is single handedly letting the homeless crisis grow for his own benefit is still helping the crisis metastasize,” Hevesi continued.
He said no New Yorker has done more to maintain the statewide homeless crisis than Cuomo, the person with the most power to ensure families and individuals obtain permanent housing.
He also accused Cuomo of directly benefiting from the homeless crisis through the temporary shelter nonprofit that he and his family members founded in 1986, and which his sister chairs.
THE CITY reported on the financial ties between Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaigns and the nonprofit HELP USA in May. The governor’s sister Maria Cuomo Cole, her husband Kenneth Cole and several HELP USA board members and administrators have donated more than $450,000 to Cuomo’s campaigns since 2008, THE CITY reported.
Hevesi said Cuomo’s financial interest in the “homeless industry” has motivated him to block the Home Stability Support program, which was included in both the senate and assembly’s one-house budget proposals.
“He refuses to do it because he is profiting from homelessness,” Hevesi said, citing The CITY’s reporting. “He profits from taking huge campaign contributions from shelter operators.”
A total of 58,251 people, including nearly 21,000 children, slept in a New York City municipal homeless shelter on July, according to the most recent daily census report published by the Department of Homeless Services.
In response to the governor’s letter to the MTA, the Coalition for the Homeless called on Cuomo to focus on developing more supportive housing for people who currently experience homelessness to prevent them from sleeping in trains and other public areas.
“Let him step up with more housing and services specifically targeted for homeless people,” the Coalition for the Homeless said in a statement earlier this month. “Stop shifting the cost of shelters off to localities and stop the prison-to-shelter pipeline from the state’s correctional facilities.”
In 2016, Cuomo committed to a 15-year plan to develop 20,000 units of supportive housing — permanent, affordable apartments with on-site social services — but has remained silent about the plan since signing off on 6,000 units over five years in 2017, Hevesi said.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Hevesi pointed to the growth in the homeless population since Cuomo took office in 2011, repeating a statistic he regularly recites while hammering Cuomo’s record on homelessness. .
“62,333 children have become homeless since he took office as governor. That’s his legacy,” Hevesi said.