The Cost of Compromise – A Response to NYC’s Housing Legislation Debate from SCHDC

An insightful response from Sisters of Charity Housing Development Corporation on the unfolding debates around New York City's housing legislation. The blog deep dives into current socio-political dynamics while reinforcing SCHDC’s “housing first” principle.

In the ever-evolving realm of policy and socio-economic debates, the recent events surrounding the New York City Council’s new legislation, and Mayor Eric Adams’ subsequent actions, have illustrated the complexities of these discussions. From the perspective of the Sisters of Charity Housing Development Corporation (SCHDC), it is integral to analyze these occurrences via our “housing first” lens.

Articulated by Council Member Tiffany Cabán, “Today’s show of strength could not have happened without your backbone, your commitment, and your refusal to be bullied,” is more than just a rallying cry—it is an embodiment of the ethos implied in our belief that permanent housing is a fundamental human right. The council’s initiative strives towards this goal, seeking to broaden access to the city’s rental vouchers for those at the brink of homelessness or eviction, irrespective of income sources or work status. This proposed shift, which also includes the elimination of the long-standing requirement for a 90-day sojourn in the shelter system for voucher eligibility, aligns with SCHDC’s holistic approach towards homelessness.

On the other hand, Mayor Adams’ independent rule change, suspending the 90-day clause, followed by his veto of the council’s bills, casts a shadow on this important progress. His reasoning—suggesting an expanded access to housing vouchers could inflate taxpayers’ burden and may result in deprioritizing the homeless currently in shelters or on the streets—is worth proper scrutiny. SCHDC understands the necessity of wise fiscal planning, yet it is imperative not to sideline the rights of the most vulnerable in our society.

The Atlas’ Housing Case Studies, featuring cases from Wichita, KS and Placer County, CA, plus the pioneering Homesharing initiative in Oregon, underscores potential ways to address these concerns effectively. Through community participation, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) challenges can be overcome, and with innovative programs like Homesharing, affordable housing can be rapidly expanded.

SCHDC maintains that navigating the issues surrounding homelessness requires vision beyond immediate needs and cost factors. The solution isn’t economical or exclusive—it’s holistic, embracing permanent housing as a basic human right and steppingstone to human flourishing. It’s time we place compassion back into the roots of our policy implementation processes.

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