Public comments for: Income Savings Plan Program

Comments

Comment:
I write to strongly oppose the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) proposed rule to establish an income savings program for DHS shelter residents with earned income. The proposed rule should be withdrawn. The rule would require employed shelter residents to deposit 30% of their income into a fund maintained by DHS. DHS would then return the funds when participants exit the shelter. If a participant fails to make the required deposits while they stay in the shelter, the consequence may be termination of shelter placement (after some minimal due process). The proposed rule is described as a way to “help . . . employed individuals get back on their feet and exit shelter by budgeting for and developing savings while in shelter.” However, this statement shows that the DHS proposal is rooted in a misguided belief that the problems faced by shelter residents stem from people’s failure to be responsible and to uplift themselves. This is a distraction from the real systemic causes of homelessness. Rather than focusing on individual behavior and imposing a system of consequences that will most certainly worsen the lives of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, the City of New York should be making serious commitments to tackling the housing crisis. More than 60,000 people sleep in a shelter each night in New York City, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. The City needs to address these numbers by building enough housing targeting the neediest New Yorkers. As stated in the Coalition for the Homeless’s August 2019 report, Mayor de Blasio’s much-touted housing plan has exacerbated homelessness. Mayor de Blasio used limited resources to subsidize the building of expensive apartments, creating or preserving 60,000 apartments with rents above $1,700 per month, while setting aside just 15,000 apartments for homeless households. These are not nearly enough for people who are the most neediest – people who cannot afford to spend $800 per month on rent, if that much. The proposed rule is unworkable as well, because for many people, saving 30% of their income will mean not taking care of other basic needs. The housing crisis will not be solved by individuals saving a little here and there. DHS and the City of New York should be ashamed for rolling out a rule that reflects a belief that it is up to individual actors to overcome the housing crisis in this city. I urge DHS to withdraw this rule and demand that the de Blasio administration pay attention to the neediest New Yorkers by building adequate housing at the lowest rent levels and by building housing specifically for homeless individuals. Elena Landriscina, Esq. Brooklyn, New York
Supporting Document:
Agency: DHS
Comment:
I understand and agree that it is much easier to move to an apartment when a person has savings. But the requirement for working homeless people living in shelters to save up to 30% of their earnings seems too rigid in a time when even people with homes are living paycheck to paycheck. Can a sliding scale of required savings be implemented instead, based on the person's or family's net income after the person's or family's expenses are deducted? And this might change every month. What if a person or family has medical or other necessary expenses? What if they have to buy a pair of shoes or a winter coat? What if they have to buy work clothes? What if they have work-related expenses? This rule, while well-intended, seems too harsh, especially since the person or family might lose their eligibility to stay in a shelter if they cannot comply with the rule. I do not support the rule "as written."
Agency: DHS