City announces plan to create 1,500 permanent affordable homes for those in shelter system

A homeless encampment in New York City instead of shelter system.
A homeless encampment in New York City.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

A new initiative aims to secure stable residences for 1,500 New Yorkers currently residing in the city’s shelter system. 

Mayor Eric Adams joined  Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Wasow on Thursday to launch the Affordable Housing Services (AHS) initiative — a new effort to create 1,500 permanent affordable homes for those in the shelter system holding City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) vouchers. 

Through an emergency declaration issued today, Mayor Adams issued an emergency declaration enabling DSS to expedite the creation of the initial 1,000 affordable housing units by streamlining contract processes with participating nonprofits.

“Time and time again, our administration has taken action to help New Yorkers in our shelter system move into permanent affordable homes, and our strategies have proven effective,” Adams said in a statement. “As 10,000 households eligible for CityFHEPS are currently living in shelters, the Affordable Housing Services initiative will create over 1,500 much-needed permanent affordable homes for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. And as we act now to connect New Yorkers to the homes they need, we will continue to advance our historic ‘City of Yes’ proposal to build housing in every neighborhood and advocate for Albany to truly meet the need.”

The initial 1,000 units will adopt a long-term leasing approach, utilizing existing housing inventory to hasten occupancy, while the remaining 500 units will be acquired by nonprofit entities. This program marks the most recent effort in a series of endeavors to address New York City’s homeless crisis, wherein CityFHEPS vouchers facilitated more connections to permanent housing for New Yorkers in Fiscal Year 2023 than in any previous year since their inception.

“The Affordable Housing Services initiative is an important avenue for accelerating pathways to housing for shelter residents,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “This effort builds on the increases in permanent housing placements this administration has already facilitated and serves as an example of our ongoing commitment to secure affordable housing for New Yorkers.”

Wasow, on Thursday, said the new program would help move people from the day-to-day living of the shelter system into a level of economic comfort that will permanently get them on their feet. 

“After taking significant steps to expand access to city-funded rental assistance for households in shelter, we are pursuing bold housing solutions and leveraging social service dollars to create critical permanent housing opportunities for them. The emergency use of the Affordable Housing Services initiative will fast-track connections to deeply affordable housing for 1,000 households in shelter while positioning them for long-term stability. This initiative will also be instrumental in helping build on the vital progress we’ve made increasing permanent housing placements from shelter last year.”

Under the Adams administration, eligibility for CityFHEPS vouchers has broadened, eliminating the previous 90-day shelter residency requirement to obtain vouchers. Furthermore, the scope of eligible uses for vouchers now extends to various regions within New York State, and the application process has been streamlined via the DSS benefits portal.

“With more people in shelter and housing more expensive than ever, we need new, creative solutions to help people move into housing they can afford,” said Comptroller Brad Lander. “Props to DSS Commissioner Molly Wasow Park and the Adams administration for coming up with this innovative and urgently-needed program — and for working with us to ensure it makes wise use of public dollars, addresses the short-term crisis but also builds toward longer-term solutions, and helps homeless New Yorkers find their way home.”