Gabriela Sandoval Requena
Director of Policy and Communications
February 23, 2023
Thank you, Chair Sanchez and members of the City Council Housing and Buildings Committee for holding this hearing on social housing and the opportunity to submit written testimony.
Founded in 1994, New Destiny is a New York City-based nonprofit committed to ending the cycle of violence for low-income families and individuals experiencing homelessness and domestic violence. We build and manage supportive, affordable housing and through our rapid rehousing program, HousingLink, we connect survivors with safe, permanent housing. New Destiny also advocates for housing resources for domestic violence survivors and their families. We invite you to read our 2022 NYC Policy Priorities.
New Destiny is a co-convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition (FHC), a broad group of organizations and impacted advocates committed to tackling homelessness among families in our city, and a member of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD).
Domestic Violence and Family Homelessness
Domestic violence has been the number one driver of family homelessness in New York City for far too long.1 In 2021, more than 10,000 New Yorkers entered the Human Resources Administration (HRA) domestic violence shelter system, 95% of them were in families with minors,2 while 39% of families who entered the separate Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system identified domestic violence as the primary reason for their homelessness.3 With so few housing resources, once in shelter, survivors are far more likely to remain in shelter rather than to move to an apartment. Fifty three percent of survivors with minors that left HRA domestic violence shelter in 2021 moved to another shelter instead of permanent housing. That is more than 1 in 2 families that left shelter for shelter.
The dearth of affordable housing only exacerbates the plight of survivors as they strive to re-gain stability. Across New York State, there is no county or locality where a renter earning minimum wage can afford a one-bedroom apartment.4 Over the past three years, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment has risen 20% to $3,267 in New York City, and in Manhattan it surpassed $5,000 in June of 2022.5 Our city leaders must ensure that all New Yorkers, especially survivors of domestic violence and other vulnerable populations, are housed. We can achieve this by building and sustaining deeply affordable housing.
New Destiny commends New York City Council and the Housing and Buildings Committee for holding this hearing on social housing. We support a social housing vision that prioritizes deeply affordable housing, and we support the intent of Introductions 196, 637, and 714, and Resolution 344.
New Destiny supports Introduction 196. Mission-driven non-profit developers and community land trusts should have the first opportunity to buy apartment buildings when they are up for sale. Rents are skyrocketing, and many tenants are unable to pay, putting them at risk of housing insecurity. Non-profit developers, such as New Destiny, and community land trusts (CLTs) purpose are to keep the buildings affordable and tenants in their homes.
The Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) creates a right of first offer for a list of pre-qualified developers, including primarily non-profits, MWBEs, as well as those using a CLT ownership structure, when landlords decide to sell their buildings. We cannot continue the cycle of buildings being sold from one for-profit developer to another where tenants continue to live in unsafe and unhealthy living conditions, and experience displacement when rents skyrocket. We need to ensure buildings for sale go to those that do not see housing as a way to profit, but as a human right.
New Destiny supports Introduction 637. City owned land should transfer to the stewards of the community — mission-driven non-profit developers and community land trusts. This would ensure public land is used for the public benefit such as deeply affordable housing.
Historically, the city has favored for-profit developers over mission-driven non-profits, even for developments on public land, where the city had control of the outcome. We are dealing with a housing and homelessness crisis; we cannot continue this legacy. The city must require publicly owned sites to be developed as 100% permanently affordable housing that reaches those with the most need, by mission-driven, not-for-profit and/or community-controlled developers and community land trusts (CLTs) with space for community facilities.
New Destiny supports Introduction 714, which would establish a land bank for New York City that would be tasked with acquiring, warehousing, and transferring real property to develop, rehabilitate and preserve affordable housing.
As rents continue to increase in New York City, making it unaffordable for everyday New Yorkers, many are left to choose between essential needs, such as food or their health, and paying rent. There are many buildings in New York City that are in horrible conditions, making it unsafe and unhealthy for the tenants residing in them. We need those buildings in the hands of mission-driven non-profit developers and CLTs who have the capacity to rehabilitate those buildings and who will keep them deeply affordable.
New Destiny strongly supports Resolution 344. Enacting and funding the Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) (S568A/A4021) would put New York on a pathway to ending the homelessness crisis in our state.
We need immediate solutions to address our housing and homelessness crises. COVID relief and protections have expired, while the need has only gotten greater. We need flexible rental assistance that will meet today’s crisis. HAVP does this by offering immediate rental assistance to New Yorkers, helping them access permanent housing or from losing it in the first place. Funding HAVP at $250 million would help an estimated 50,000 people avoid homelessness.
Survivors in our city are in dire need of additional housing resources and the Council and Adams administration have opportunities to mitigate the double trauma of abuse and homelessness.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony. New Destiny looks forward to working with the Council and the administration to advance these initiatives.
We welcome any questions you may have.
Gabriela Sandoval Requena
Director of Policy and Communications at New Destiny Housing
gsrequena [at] newdestinyhousing . org
1 Silkowski, A. (2019). Housing Survivors: How New York City Can Increase Housing Stability for Survivors of Domestic Violence. New York, NY: Comptroller Bureau of Policy and Research Bureau of Budget. Retrieved from: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/Housing_Survivors_102119.pdf
2 NYC Department of Social Services (2022). 2021 Annual Report on Exits from NYC Domestic Violence Shelters.
3 NYC Department of Homeless Services Shelter Eligibility Data.
4 Aurand, A., Clarke, M., Emmanuel, D., Foley, E., Rafi, I., & Yentel, D. (2022). Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing. National Low Income Housing Coalition. https://nlihc.org/oor
5 Brand, D., Faye, M., Mariam, Q., Lozano-Velez, M., Rahman, N., Soto, T., & Jimenez, J. (2022, September 13). It’s Not Just Manhattan: Rents Are Still Rising Across NYC. City Limits. https://citylimits.org/2022/09/13/its-not-just-manhattan-rents-are-still-rising-across-nyc/
Leave a Reply