2/ In 2013, only a year after graduating from college, ready to head to law school, I found myself in a NYC homeless shelter, instead of cramming for the LSAT; and there, surrounded by dozens of Black people, I realized a horrific truth: Homelessness is racist, and the same…
3/ …parts that led to the murder of Trayvon or a George Floyd, were the same parts that had Black New Yorkers homeless by the tens-of-thousands.
4/ I’ve spent the last 7 years, after realizing that homelessness is actually a product of systemic racism, a societal problem-- more than individual, organizing with an advocacy group committed to ending homelessness across New York state.
5/ I often say, “You can’t get housed if there’s not housing you can afford.” We organize those experiencing homelessness to take power from the worst experience of their life, to use it as authority rather than a call for charity.
6/ And not just to house themselves, but to end homelessness for all people, as a racial justice issue.
7/ Every year I’ve campaigned with homeless New Yorkers to appeal to the moral integrity of leaders in Albany that have the power, with the stroke of a pen, to virtually end homelessness overnight in New York.
8/ I realized that we have a homelessness crisis in NYS that rivals the crisis of the great depression, not because our state has been strapped for cash, but is actually devoid of compassion and a commitment to ending the consequences of racism.
9/ Governor Cuomo has always been the biggest obstacle.
10/ Every year at the beginning of the Budget & Legislative session, we have worked with stars in the legislature and not-so-popular elected officials to pass sensible legislation that would prevent homelessness, and more importantly, rapidly re-house those living on the…
11/ …streets and in shelters, but every time, Governor Cuomo finds a way to block our proposals.
12/ He used the Independent Democratic Caucus, the notorious IDC that was dissolved in 2018, as a scapegoat for not honoring the social contract that he has with all New Yorkers, including our 90,000+ in shelters.
13/ Before that he deflected to the Republican controlled state senate.
14/ In 2017, we called for the expansion of the Millionaires Tax, so that we could rehouse the then 88,000 homeless, but the Governor blocked us, though the Democrat-controlled Assembly had proposed an increase.
15/ The number of documented homeless New Yorkers has consistently increased every year. But anyone who pays attention to this knows, but I want to remind everyone, that we are talking about more and more Black New Yorkers getting the short-end of the stick, again and again.
16/ Now, in 2021, a full-year after the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our state, the Governor roiled in sexual scandals, a public health nightmare, is searching for ways to reclaim the love of New Yorkers, yet he rebukes the majority of us that want to tax high incomes and…
17/ …corporations more than we want to cut social services.
18/ Two weeks ago, Robert F. Mujica, the Governor Cuomo appointed Director of the NYS Division of the Budget, suggested that the state does not need to raise taxes because of federal aid, as if our working poor have not been suffering before COVID.
19/ The homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers I work with have been advocating for a Section-8 style voucher called the Housing Access Voucher Program (#HAVP).
20/ It’d create a statewide program that low-income people at risk of eviction, and those experiencing homelessness could use to remain or be re-housed, as it pays market-rent. It also allows for undocumented people to qualify. We don’t want to leave any New Yorker behind.
21/ The reality is that HAVP does cost significant money, but we are also home-to many billionaires that collectively have increased their collective wealth by over $80 billion since March last year.
22/ They can afford modest taxation as it’d mean no change to their quality of life, but if we pass sensible tax policy, the masses of New Yorkers, especially those homeless, would have their lives changed.
23/ Governor Cuomo can make that a reality, but if the last ten-years of his leadership is any indication of what he will do, homeless New Yorkers are on their own.
24/ Governor Cuomo has often noted how NYS is a progressive state, how we are a beacon of hope, an example to the rest of the United States, but I’m here to say, “If the Governor of the Empire State is to affirm the Black Lives Matter, he will pass a budget to fund the end to…
25/ …homelessness.” But honestly, I’m not holding my breath.

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