Testimony to the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare

September 15, 2021

Thank you, Chairperson Levin and members of the City Council General Welfare Committee for the opportunity to submit written testimony on behalf of New Destiny.

New Destiny Housing is a 27-year-old nonprofit committed to ending the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness. We develop new affordable housing with voluntary on-site services and through our rapid rehousing program, HousingLink, we connect survivors of domestic violence with safe, permanent housing in New York City.

We are grateful to Council Member Levin and the Committee members for their demonstrated commitment to help improve the lives of New York City’s most vulnerable by introducing these five bills.

INT. NO. 1642- 2019

New Destiny commends the Council for Intro 1642, which would require the Mayor’s Office of Operations to report on the exits from all city shelter systems, as well as the financings, starts and completions of permanent housing for those exiting emergency temporary housing. By creating a transparent, centralized mechanism that tracks shelter exits as well as the status of housing units, the city is one step closer to implementing a system that allows for interagency collaboration and meeting the HUD coordinated entry requirement. This reporting will also provide insight into service gaps to inform the City’s homelessness mitigation strategies and identify the need for additional resources.

New Destiny supports Intro 1642.

INT. NO. 149-2018

New Destiny enthusiastically supports Council Member Levin’s leadership for Intro 149, which will help increase transparency and accountability to all city shelter systems by centralizing shelter census data. It is long overdue for the City to create one combined census that shows the true scope of homelessness in New York City. We simply cannot solve a problem that we fail to measure correctly.

While Local Law 37 of 2011 requires city agencies that provide temporary housing to produce monthly reports on emergency housing assistance utilization, there is a significant lack of uniformity in the methodology, with some agencies reporting unique individuals and others a nightly average, for instance. This inconsistency makes it impossible to combine the various reports into one census count of all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Furthermore, these reports are only released on the monthly basis. The only city agency that provides daily shelter census is the Department of Homeless Services, with far less data available for the thousands of families and individuals living in the City’s other homeless shelters, including HRA domestic violence shelters. This discrepancy in data hides from view some of the City’s most vulnerable people, including homeless domestic violence survivors, people living on the street, homeless youth, homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and those in HPD’s shelter system. This results in budget and policy decisions focused on those that are in the public view, with less attention and accountability for those that are not.

New Destiny respectfully suggests that the Council considers the following recommendations for Intro 149:

  • Require a combined daily census that adds all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness
  • Ensure that the definition of HRA domestic violence shelters includes domestic violence emergency beds and domestic violence Tier II shelters
  • Mandate a consistent methodology for all city agencies to report shelter census
  • Track and report the same outcomes in the Mayor’s Management Report

For more information on our policy priorities to address homelessness among domestic violence survivors in New York City, please refer to our 2021 Policy Platform available on our website.

I also urge you to support the Family Homelessness Coalition’s priorities, based on the needs identified by a broad-based coalition of shelter and housing providers, advocates, and other nonprofits helping homeless families in New York City.

We thank the Council for the opportunity to submit written testimony and hope our recommendations are considered. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate further.

Gabriela Sandoval Requena
Senior Policy Analyst at New Destiny Housing
gsrequena@newdestinyhousing.org

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