Calling people experiencing homelessness “our brothers and sisters,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul visited our Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center on Friday to sign a bill increasing the value of state housing vouchers.
“Everyone deserves the dignity of a roof over their head, and I am proud to sign this legislation that will make that a reality for New Yorkers in need,” said Hochul.
The law, sponsored by Upper West Side Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal and State Senator Brian Kavanagh, raises the amount of rent covered by the Family Homelessness and Eviction Protection Supplement (FHEPS) program in New York City to the fair market rate. The move is a longtime goal of housing advocates, who say it will help more low-income families secure apartments and avoid homelessness.
The governor also praised Goddard Riverside’s programs for the community.
“Families step up when family members need help. And that’s exactly what this organization has done for over 100 years and for that, we are forever grateful,” she said, looking out over the combined auditorium and gymnasium where older adults eat lunch every day and young people play basketball.
Assemblywoman Rosenthal, who frequently works with our Law Project on housing issues, called the program “a lifeline” and said its expansion would put housing “within reach to thousands of vulnerable New York families.”
“Housing is health care and it is a human right,” said Rosenthal. “Signing this bill into law signals a significant shift in the way that New York State approaches homelessness prevention.”
Rosenthal joined in the praise for our work. “Goddard provides the kind of comprehensive and empathetic approach to homelessness that we should replicate everywhere,” she said. “They treat every single person experiencing homelessness with value and respect.”
Numerous local politicians and advocacy organizations turned out, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senators Robert Jackson and Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell, City Council Member Steve Levin, Department of Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks, advocate for the homeless Shams DaBaron, and representatives of the Coalition for the Homeless, Legal Aid of New York City, the Supportive Housing Network of New York, Homeless Services United and more.
Goddard Executive Director Roderick Jones, who was unable to attend, said in a statement that he was “deeply grateful” to the governor for visiting the center.
“We are committed to the critical work ahead and to strengthening our relationship with our government partners to ensure our communities have the vital resources and services they need to thrive during this unprecedented period of recovery,” said Jones.