The Network Hosts a Legislative Week of Action

Categories: New York State, New York City, Groundbreakings

The Network Hosts a Legislative Week of Action image


The Network hosted a Legislative Week of Action from March 13th-17th to urge the New York State Senate and Assembly to support crucial supportive housing investments in the final State Budget. This was hosted in lieu of the Network’s 2023 Lobby Day in Albany, which had to be canceled due to inclement weather. After a tweet storm and a call-in Day, the Legislative Week of Action culminated in simultaneous Albany and New York City rallies on Friday, March 17th.

In Albany, Network members gathered in the State Capitol’s million-dollar staircase. Network Upstate Coordinator, Steve Piasecki, kicked off the rally, “The 8.5% COLA doesn’t touch a program we care deeply about, the New York State Supportive Housing Program (NYSSHP). That has always been excluded from the COLA, which is particularly challenging because it serves the same folks who are homeless and need services and support.”

“We know how to end homelessness. It’s housing,” said Kevin O’Connor, Executive Director, Joseph’s House and Shelter. “For those with prolonged homelessness with chronic conditions they need support and all of that relies on well paid workers and well-resourced programs, and right now NYSSHP is unsustainable.”

“When we have workers, who need to work second and third jobs just to put food on the table, that is not what we consider a trusting relationship with workers,” said Luke Sikinyi, Public Policy Director, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS). “We need to have a quality workforce that stays to help those they are serving.”

Starletta Smith, Executive Director, YWCA of the Capital Region; Glen Liebman, CEO, Mental Health Association of New York (MHANY) and Brandy VanEarden, Clinical Director, Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS) also spoke.

In New York City, Network members gathered outside Governor Hochul’s Manhattan office. Network Executive Director Pascale Leone began by stating, “We are here to tell the New York State Senate and Assembly and Governor Hochul that supportive housing saves lives!”

“We need to be able to serve the people we are trying to serve. It’s not fair. The government needs to help us. We can’t keep doing this under these circumstances,” said Chinetta Mitchell, Assistant Vice President, Lantern Community Services. “Our hearts are in it and we’re here to take care of our clients and keep them housed. We need an 8.5% COLA.”

“It's shameful that year after year after year we have to ask to raise NYSSHP,” said Nicole Branca, Executive Director, New Destiny Housing. “The program funds only one staff member. How do they expect us to choose between providing security and case managers for survivors of domestic violence?”

“We know human beings impacted by homelessness need a safe place that will affirm their humanity,” said Andre Ward, Associate Vice President of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, Fortune Society. “Funding for supportive housing must be increased. It’s the least we can do to ensure people can be properly housed.”

“Supportive housing is the best thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me to get healthy and find my purpose. We need more funding for supportive housing so it can fulfill its purpose,” said Lantern Community Services tenant, Cynthia Hairston. “Supportive housing saves lives. It saved mine.”

Diane Louard-Michel, Executive Director, Lantern Community Services; Rob Robinson, Special Advisor, Partners for Dignity and Rights, and Shams DaBaron also spoke.

Learn more about the Network’s state advocacy priorities here.

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