Goddard Riverside Rallies for Supportive Housing

Executive Director Stephan Russo addresses the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing.

Dozens of Goddard Riverside Community Center employees and consumers came out to the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing Forum on Friday to call for a new agreement to expand supportive housing throughout New York.

“Housing is a right. That’s why we’re here,” proclaimed Executive Director Stephan Russo, who spoke about the history of supportive housing and participated in a panel discussion at the rally.

The campaign is calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to partner with New York City and other localities to create 35,000 additional units throughout the state. That partnership, commonly known as New York/New York IV, would be the fourth of its kind.

Under the supportive housing model, formerly homeless people pay a portion of their income toward rent and get both a roof over their heads and onsite access to a support network of professionals. This network offers the kind of assistance that other people often get from friends and family, such as help with managing illnesses, getting an education or a job, and establishing a daily routine.

This model has not only proved successful at helping some of our most vulnerable homeless neighbors; it is also cost-effective.

“As the  ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance committee I can tell you that New York/New York IV is a financial win-win,” said Liz Krueger,  a state senator representing District 28 on Manhattan’s East Side. New York State saves more than $10,000 per year on costs like shelter, jail, cash assistance, food stamps, state psychiatric care and Medicaid for each homeless person who moves into supportive housing, according to the Supportive Housing Network of New York.

Eli Bean, a formerly homeless man now living in supportive housing, spoke movingly about how having a permanent home has changed his life.

“I came back from a cardboard box,” he said. “If you give a homeless person a place to live, they can become a productive member of society.”