More than 60,000 New Yorkers sleep in the city’s shelter system each night, the vast majority of whom are families with children. Thousands more people sleep on the streets or doubled up with friends or family. With the shelter population at record levels—driven primarily by evictions and domestic violence—Mayor de Blasio recently announced a controversial plan to open 90 new shelters, on top of the 275 currently overseen by the Department of Homeless Services. But as housing costs continue to rise while incomes stagnate, what are the permanent solutions?
In our sixth Brass Tacks discussion, we’ll have two presentations on homelessness as a symptom of our housing crisis. Giselle Routhier, Policy Director for the Coalition for the Homeless, will detail the Coalition’s advocacy and direct service work and their policy recommendations to the city and state for prioritizing housing production for homeless individuals and families. Jarquay Abdullah of Picture the Homeless will discuss PTH’s housing campaign, which centers on the right to housing and has included launching the NYC Community Land Initiative to lay the groundwork for non-speculative housing models, advocating for diverting funds from shelters toward permanently affordable housing, and a survey of vacant buildings and lots in the city as potential sites for new housing.
Ample time for conversation will follow the presentations.
Giselle Routhier is the Policy Director at the Coalition for the Homeless. She works to advance housing-based solutions to homelessness in New York City. She joined the Coalition in 2009 as Policy Analyst and has since worked on multiple campaigns for affordable and supportive housing. In addition, she oversees the Coalition’s work monitoring and enforcing the right to shelter. Giselle is a doctoral candidate in Social Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, researching homelessness and housing instability. She holds an MSW from Columbia University and a BA from Providence College.
Jarquay Abdullah is a Housing Campaign Leader for Picture the Homeless. PTH is a grassroots non-profit organization founded and led by homeless people that works to change the laws and policies that impact people without homes. Established by two homeless men in 1999 to organize homeless people as an effective voice for systemic change, today PTH is a citywide, multiracial, bilingual organization with a constituency of homeless people living in shelters as well as those living on the streets and in other public places. PTH’s work is focused on civil rights, including police reform and fighting the criminalization of the homeless; housing; and education and training.
About Housing Brass Tacks
Understanding housing policy, finance, and regulation is daunting. One must wade through a sea of acronyms, untangle public and private interests, trace knotty financial flows, and decrypt complex bureaucracies. Making heads or tails of all this can take a lifetime, but the need to understand is urgent. We all feel New York City’s housing squeeze; increased affordable housing is a centerpiece of our mayor’s agenda; and sweeping changes in housing and community development policy may soon come at the federal level. The Architectural League is here to introduce (or refresh) our housing proficiency. Housing Brass Tacks is an informal discussion series designed as a primer on big ideas and essential mechanics in housing policy and development. We’re getting down to brass tacks: the fundamentals that structure this unwieldy topic.