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Everyone deserves the #RighttoARoof. Photo: Make the Road NY
Everyone deserves the #RighttoARoof. Photo: Make the Road NY

Make the Road NY, other advocacy groups turn up the heat on NYC mayoral candidates over housing

The groups have pointed back to a February report they released, detailing a way back for accessible, affordable housing in New York City.

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Is housing a right? Some believe that it is not, but for others, the topic is not debatable. However, there’s no question that the United States is experiencing a housing and homelessness crisis, and it impacts everyone.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before.

Adding on to that, there is a national shortage of more than 7 million affordable homes for the more than 11 million families that are considered low-income, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

According to data pulled from the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, in late September 2020, 36% of all homeowners lost employment income between March and the end of September. 

While people of all backgrounds were impacted, the income loss was most common for those earning less than $25,000 (44%), Hispanic homeowners (49%), and Black homeowners (41%.)

In 1943, the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow, developed the popular theory known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The theory is a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted in the form of a pyramid, with food, clothing and shelter at the very bottom, and self-fulfillment at the top. 

Without the food, shelter and clothing, safety and security, love and belonging, and self-esteem, a person will not be able to reach Maslow’s ultimate human need: self-fulfillment.

In the absence of a place to call home, nourishment, a sense of community and a sense of accomplishment, one can never reach the top of the pyramid — they cannot reach their full potential.

A collective of advocacy groups in New York City want to see their fellow community members reach their full potential, and that starts with providing the most basic of needs: shelter.

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the group released a report entitled “Right to a Roof,” detailing their demands for an “Integrated Housing Plan to End Homelessness and Promote Racial Equity.”

The groups that collaborated for the report were Make the Road NY, Community Voices Heard, Community Service Society, New York Communities for Change, Center for New York City Neighborhoods, Vocal New York, RiseBoro, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development and Mutual Housing Association of New York.

“As New York City begins to envision its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for racial justice captures our national attention, the need for safe, healthy, and affordable housing for all New Yorkers has never been more dire,” reads the executive summary of the report.

As the NYC Mayoral primaries inch closer, Make the Road NY along with the other eight organizations are amplifying the campaign again, urging all mayoral candidates to read the report, and take their suggestions into serious consideration.

In their report, the advocates expressed frustration and disappointment with current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s failure to “reduce racial and economic disparities and serve the needs of the lowest-income New Yorkers.” 

The advocates outlined specific areas where de Blasio failed to improve housing and homelessness issues. Over the last seven years, he also prioritized number-driven deal making rather than needs-based housing solutions.

The mayor also created new “affordable housing” that wasn’t actually affordable for those most in need, favored for-profit developers over mission-driven nonprofits, and failed to adequately address the homelessness crisis.

Despite the let down,  leaders are hopeful that the new leadership will enact real change, and half the work is already done through their 30+ page report.

The groups laid out detailed guidance on how the next administration can ensure the “right to a roof” for everyone, by ending homelessness, promoting racial equity, and prioritizing housing opportunities for those who need them most.

There are six priorities provided in the document, including the prioritization of needs over numbers, access to affordable and supportive housing, and supporting community ownership.

Is housing a right? For these advocacy groups, the answer is yes, and they have offered a plan for their future elected leaders to ensure this right for all New Yorkers.

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