Legal Aid Attorneys Endorse Home Stability Support at Bronx Rally
Dozens rally for Home Stability Support outside city’s busiest housing eviction court as Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325 formally announces support for innovative policy addressing homelessness
Union touts plan proposed by Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and homeless advocates as best way forward at a time when homelessness reaches unprecedented proportions in city and state
BRONX, N.Y. – With homelessness in New York City and across the state reaching unprecedented proportions, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325 (AFL-CIO) formally announced its endorsement of Home Stability Support (HSS) during a rally held today outside Bronx Housing Court, site to the largest share of eviction proceedings in the city. In announcing its support, the union of legal aid attorneys tasked with defending families against eviction now join Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (D – Forest Hills) and a growing statewide coalition advocating for the proposed new rental assistance.
“Endorsing Assembly Member Hevesi’s Home Stability Support Program was a ‘no-brainer’ for the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325”, said President Deborah Wright. “On behalf of my 1,140 members employed at The Legal Aid Society, The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, The Legal Aid Society of Orange County, and The Federal Defenders of the Eastern and Southern Districts, we are proud to partner with Assembly Member Hevesi to combat the homelessness crisis overwhelming New York State, and especially the City.
“My members see how homelessness impacts every aspect of a client’s life and HSS presents both a viable and fiscally-sound solution to keep families and individuals in their homes. We also have the backing of UAW Region 9a that represents thousands of middle class workers from New York City through the Hudson Valley, Long Island, New England, and Puerto Rico. We are committed to do whatever it takes to make HSS a reality, and finally offer our clients and all low-income New Yorkers a real solution to prevent the devastating transition into homelessness.”
“These legal aid attorneys at UAW Local 2325 form the front line in the fight to keep families in their homes. I am proud to have such dedicated and selfless defenders of the right to housing onboard with Home Stability Support,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi. “Homelessness in New York State not only causes unimaginable pain to families, but it also costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year on services and the legal proceedings like the cases happening right here in this building. With Home Stability Support, we can address this growing crisis in a fiscally and socially responsible way, and ultimately keep more families in their homes.”
The union’s endorsement came at a rally and press conference held this afternoon outside Bronx Housing Court on Grand Concourse. In attendance were dozens of UAW Local 2325 union member legal aid attorneys that provide pro bono legal assistance and representation to families facing eviction. The event was hosted by Assembly Member Hevesi, a leader of the growing coalition to advocate for the adoption of HSS in Albany.
For over 40 years, the 1,200 members of UAW Local 2325 have worked for the Legal Aid Society in the criminal, juvenile rights and civil practices. Member attorneys work to provide quality legal representation to low-income New Yorkers, often in spite of heavy caseloads and inadequate resources.
The symbolism of the rally’s location was not lost on those present. The Bronx Housing Court regularly ranks as the busiest in the city, In 2013, 33% of the city’s housing court petitions were filed in the Bronx, despite the borough containing less than 20% of the city’s total population. Citywide, the Housing division of the Civil Court system is one of the busiest in the world, handling over 300,000 residential cases each year.
In recent months, New York has seen its growing homeless and housing affordability crisis reach unprecedented proportions. Just this week, the NYC Department of Homeless Services reported that New York’s homeless population totaled 60,252, an all-time high. Meanwhile, there are currently more than 150,000 homeless children statewide.
In an effort to address this crisis, Home Stability Support seeks to increase the state’s outdated rental subsidies. Prior to 1975, the vast majority of families on public assistance had their rent paid in full. However, state housing allowances have lagged far behind the market and, given skyrocking housing costs, have failed to keep pace.
The coalition anticipates that HSS would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three in NYC. Meanwhile, the cost of shelters in NYC is $38,460 for a family with children. The net savings for taxpayers is $27,236 per year. Similar savings would be realized in counties throughout the state.
This would also translate into savings on related services such as emergency room visits, law enforcement costs, housing court costs, and programs and shelters for runaway youth. Just preventing the process of eviction in the Bronx and at housing courts statewide has the potential to save taxpayers millions of dollars. A recent analysis by the NYC Bar Association found that preventing the evictions of roughly 5,000 households could save $251 million a year in New York City alone.
The coalition is urging both advocates and citizens to sign on in support by visiting www.homestabilitysupport.com.