What would it take to eliminate homelessness in Syracuse and across New York State? That’s the question Governor Cuomo hopes to answer with the launch of his Homelessness Action Plan. He pledged $10.4 billion during the State of the State address to fight homelessness over the next five years. Organizations in Syracuse will soon be submitting proposals for a share of those funds.
Coordinator of Housing and Homelessness Coalition of Syracuse and Onondaga County Melissa Marrone doesn’t see homelessness as an inevitability, and she’s got the numbers to back it up.
"People are languishing in shelters, because we really need to figure out how a way to get these most vulnerable houses and quickly. This is HUD's next step. We've ended veteran homelessness, our next step is to end chronic homelessness."
Marrone says the $10.4 billion that the governor has committed to fighting this problem would go a long way to fill the gaps left by cuts in federal programs.
" We are hoping this commitment helps to fill those gaps as well," Marrone said. "This loss is pretty significant and we're desperately trying to prevent homelessness among the people that were in those program. Specifically for youths, they lost all their transitional housing, funding and that was a pretty significant loss and we are hoping to fill those gaps."
She acknowledges that ending chronic homelessness is a major challenge, but Syracuse has succeeded in this area before.
"Syracuse and Onondaga County was recently just able to declare that we ended Veterans Homelessness and that designation was given by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness."
Executive Director of CNY Services John Warren shares Marrone’s optimism, but cautions that significant change won’t happen overnight.
"It's not easy to just turn around a ship that has been going in a particular direction this long," Warren said. "I think that it's really going to help, and we'll certainly, along with our colleagues, works towards having that happen. We do have to play the long game. That has been our experience over the last 25 years."
Phase I of the Governors Homeless Action Plan includes the following:
- Issuing a request for proposals for 1,200 units of supportive housing. The RFP is the first phase of the $2.6 billion plan to develop 6,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years.
- Addressing inadequate shelter housing in New York City by providing to the City of New York more than 500 beds in underused state and state-licensed facilities for the homeless.
- Creating an Interagency Council on Homelessness to explore targeted solutions to homelessness and recommend best practices and policies to meet the ongoing needs of communities and individuals
- Completing inspections of all 916 homeless shelters in the state and taking action to improve the conditions in homeless shelters so facilities are safe, clean and well-maintained.
The state plans to institute an interagency council on homelessness that will issue its first report of the programs results in December 2016.