Our Past, Present and Future Housing Needs
(Column: Ask the Housing Experts)
The New York/New York Agreements
Question: What was the first New York/New York Agreement (a.k.a. NY/NY I) about?
Answer: In the 1980s, there was a dramatic increase in the number of homeless people with mental illness living in the shelters and on the streets of New York City. This increase was attributed to:
The discharge of large numbers of people with mental illness into the community from state hospitals without adequate supportive services in place, and the pressure on hospitals to shorten the amount of time people with mental illness stay in the hospital
The drastic cutbacks in federal funding for low income housing, which led to a decrease in the public development of affordable housing
The availability of affordable, highly addictive drugs to low income New Yorkers
The loss of 50,000 SRO (single room occupancy) housing units, the "housing of last resort," for many low-income and disabled individuals
In response to these large numbers of homeless people with mental illness, the NY/NY agreement was proposed by advocates, and was signed by former Mayor Dinkins and former Governor Cuomo in 1990.
Between 1990 and 1993, a total of 3,814 units of housing were developed. More specifically, the first Agreement led to the creation of 800 Community Residence and Residential Care Center for Adults (RCCA) beds, 838 Community Residence/Single Room Occupancy (CR/SRO) beds, 1,426 Supported Single Room Occupancy (Supported SRO) beds and 750 Supported Housing beds. The first New York/New York Agreement was very successful in helping a large number of homeless consumers living on the streets of New York City and in shelters to access safe, stable housing.
A large number of the units that were created provided permanent housing, often with on-site support services. Between 1989 and 1994, the housing created by this agreement reduced the number of adults in the city shelter system by 37 percent.
Question: What was the Second New York/New York Agreement (a.k.a. NY/NY II)?
Answer: By 1997, the number of people in shelters started to climb again as the housing units created by the first NY/NY agreement became filled to capacity. In response, mental health and homeless advocates formed the NY/NY II campaign. The campaign lasted two years and in October 1999, Governor George E. Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced that the NY/NY II Agreement to develop 1,500 additional units of housing for homeless people with mental illness had been signed.
Through NY/NY II, the State and City provided more than $100 million in funding over a five-year period; the State financed 500 supervised single room occupancy (SRO) beds, and the City financed an additional 500 supervised SRO beds. Additionally, the State also funded 190 new supported apartments for mentally ill individuals and the City opened an additional 310 beds with support services using money saved through the gradual closing of state hospital beds. Finally, the New York State Office of Mental Health provided funding for another 538 units targeted to people with "high service needs" and subsidies for 900 apartment units rented in the community.
Question: What is currently happening in the campaign for a third NY/NY Agreement (a.k.a. NY/NY III)?
Answer: In January 2002, the NY/NY II coalition began a new campaign to ask the city and state to commit to a new development plan that would extend over several years called the Campaign for a NY/NY III Agreement. The agreement, as proposed, would create 9,000 units of housing for homeless people with mental illness; 7,500 of those units would be for single adults and 1,500 units would be for families most at risk. Since it can take three years or even longer to develop a new supportive housing program, if the NY/NY III agreement passes this year, new housing could actually continue to be created just as the funding for new NY/NY II housing units would end.
Question: How can I participate in the NY/NY III campaign?
Answer: There are many ways you can take part in the NY/NY III campaign; upcoming events are often published in the CUCS Vacancy and Information Update. You can also find out about upcoming events by calling the CUCS Housing Resource Center, at (212) 801-3333.
The Coalition for the Homeless also maintains a web page that contains useful information about the NY/NY III campaign. You can find out more by visiting their site, at http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/advocacy/NYNYIII.html.