BY MICHAEL GIUSETTI
Community Board 6 voted last week in favor of an initiative by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) to combat the city’s homeless problem.
The assemblyman’s Home Support Initiative aims to decrease housing displacement among New Yorkers by increasing public assistance allowance for those facing housing loss as a result of eviction, domestic violence or dangerous living conditions. In addition, the program would assist those who are already homeless or living in substandard conditions.
A total of 60,000 city residents remain without a home, while an additional 80,000 state residents are on the verge of becoming homeless, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.
The proposed cost of Hevesi’s plan is approximately three times lower than what New Yorkers currently pay for state and city programs. The Home Stability Support program’s budget could potentially alleviate some of the burden on city property owners, who currently foot more of the bill as a result of decreased state funding for public assistance.
At its Feb. 8 meeting, CB 6 voted in favor of the program.
“As a board member, this proposal is fantastic and we need to work to encourage more like it in the community,” said Jean Silva, a Flushing resident and board member.
CB 6 will now call on Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to include Hevesi’s proposal in next year’s budget and pass the necessary legislation to enact the plan.
During the meeting, the board also heard a presentation by city Department of Finance representative George Hu, who discussed efforts to expand enrollment in the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE).
Hu, who currently operates as the only member of his community assistance unit at the Finance Department, hopes to increase enrollment in SCRIE and DRIE through community events and partnerships with City Council members across the five boroughs.
SCRIE and DRIE function as rent increase exemptions for senior citizens and disabled persons, respectively, who meet a set of eligibility requirements. In his presentation, Hu emphasized that events typically span multiple days to enable him to enroll as many New Yorkers as possible and give them opportunities to take advantage of the programs.
Although the events are not yet posted on the Finance Department’s website, Hu said persons with questions should call (212) 291-4243.
CB 6 will next meet on March 6.