Service providers and advocates are calling on the mayor to withdraw a controversial new rental assistance plan submitted to the state for approval. Representatives from Partnership for the Homeless, Coalition for the Homeless and several other groups gathered outside City Hall on a blustery November afternoon to voice concerns about “Housing Stability Plus,” under which homeless individuals and families would no longer have top priority for federal Section 8 subsidies or public housing. Instead, they would receive a new type of voucher that diminishes by 20 percent each year.
“This economy doesn't offer the kind of wages to offset that reduction,” says Lauren Bholai-Pareti, executive director of the Council on Homeless Policies and Services, an umbrella group representing 50 nonprofit service providers. “It's such an unrealistic expectation. When was the last time you got a 20 percent raise?”
Jim Anderson, spokesperson for the city's Department of Homeless Services, says his agency stands by the plan and has no intention of withdrawing it, particularly given the scarcity of Section 8. “This is not the time to move back, it's the time to move forward,” he says. “Rather than doubt families' capacity or desire to succeed, we need to rally around them and help them do just that.”