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Queens Chronicle

Crowley stands firm against shelters

Seeks a moratorium on construction while focusing on rent voucher plan

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Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:53 am, Thu Jun 5, 2014.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) didn’t hide the fact that she’s vehemently against spending on homeless shelters last week.

At last Tuesday’s meeting of the Queens Borough Board and last Thursday’s hearing over the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, Crowley laid out multiple proposals on how to better address homelessness in New York City.

After broaching the idea of an $80 million rent subsidy program being discussed in City Hall, Crowley proposed an all-out retreat in regards to homeless shelter construction, especially the planned Glendale building.

“Why are we even thinking about $25 million for that project when we need to put everybody in permanent housing?” Crowley asked. “I just think there should be a moratorium against building any more [shelters] if we’re going to do a voucher system that gives people money towards rent.”

Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, who gave a presentation to the Borough Board on Mayor de Blasio’s $41.1 billion affordable housing plan, promised that a sizable amount of funds allocated to shelters will be redistributed to affordable housing, but a moratorium wouldn’t be the best way to go.

“Where are we going to put families that are homeless?” Been asked, to which Crowley said to put them in affordable housing. “Well, we don’t have affordable housing.”

At last Thursday’s Glendale shelter hearing at Christ the King High School, Crowley took the proposed rent voucher idea a step further.

“De Blasio is saying we want to put $80 million in a voucher program. What I’m saying tonight is $80 million is not enough,” she said. “We need to put $200 million into it. We need more money for a voucher program that will give families immediate service so they don’t have to live in a shelter.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the subsidy program would serve just over 800 families annually, for a total of approximately 3,200 families over four years, and families in which at least one parent is working 35 hours a week would be targeted.

The city’s homeless shelter population reached a record high in January, with slightly more than 53,000 people seeking refuge in such spaces.

The new rent subsidy idea is smaller than its predecessor, the Advantage program, which served 5,000 people until its funding was cut by the state in 2011.

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