NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Earlier this year Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to invest billions of dollars into solving the growing homeless problem in New York.
So far the city has only seen a fraction of the funds.
In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a $20-billion plan to help solve the homeless crisis.
Advocates for the homeless say so far the state is falling short.
“Right now at the state, we’re really calling on them to make good on this promise, and release that money so that we have a solution in place that we know works,” Giselle Routhier, Coalition for the homeless said.
Governor Cuomo vowed to create 20,000 supportive and affordable housing units across the state over the next 15 years.
The annual state budget included $1.9-billion to fund about 6,000 subsidized units, but so far only $150-million was released, the rest is stuck in legislative limbo, and the governor’s office said Cuomo’s calls for a special legislative session have been ignored.
“The senate has not been cooperative, and that’s what’s slowing us up right now,” Cuomo said.
For now, 62,000 men, women, and children are sleeping in New York City homeless shelters every night, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Homeless services experts said even if the state releases more funding now, it could take months before housing is in place.
“They’ll have to put out a proposal, nonprofits will have to make applications. The applications will have to be reviewed, and then when they get the money they have to go out and find the unit,” Robert Mascali, former Deputy Commissioner, NYC Homeless Services said.
“When someone moves into permanent supportive housing the ability of them to stay stably housed over the long-term is vastly increased,” Routhier added.
Advocates for the homeless have been trying to put pressure on Governor Cuomo’s office; starting petitions and rallying outside of his Manhattan office nearly every Wednesday for more than 20 weeks.
They said they’ll continue to hold the weekly rallies until the state finally releases more funding.
As 1010 WINS’ Andrew Falzone reported, another rally was held Thursday, outside of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s town hall meeting in Harlem.
“They’re buildings that they stick homeless families in and they’re in subpar condition,” Tahisha Fredericks said.
Fredericks was describing what is known as a cluster site, she knows about them because she and her family spent time living in one.
“No one normally would live in these buildings, and many of them are below code,” she said. “What I experienced was, there are many rats which made it difficult to sleep at night because you would hear them running around and you were always afraid that you or one of your children would be bit.”
Outside de Blasio’s town hall meeting Thursday night, Fredericks wanted New Yorkers to know that homelessness can be closer than you think.
“We’re working New Yorkers just like you, and we just want affordable housing – nothing more,” she said.
Mayor de Blasio said he wants to phase out cluster sites by 2019.