With the resignation of Department of Homeless Services Director Robert Hess, many of the recent policy changes that the department has threatened to enforce have been picked up by the press. WNYC has reported on the city’s plan to require formerly homeless tenants to pay 30 percent of their income towards rent. They spoke with a broker who said that many landlords don’t want to rent to homeless families as they fear delays in payment.
Because these tenants have very low incomes or possibly even stipends, it’s virtually impossible for them to keep up with the monthly rent. Praxis staff and clients have been vocal against this policy and have taken this fight from City Hall to Albany.
The new director will be Seth Diamond, the executive deputy commissioner at the Human Resources Administration. Mr. Diamond was first appointed by Giuliani during his first term as Mayor.
Diamond discussed his new goals with The New York Times, “setting high expectations for people, supporting them as they try and reach those expectations, strongly supporting people who go to work, and having some consequences for people who fail to take advantage of some of the opportunities that we make available.”
Coalition for the Homeless senior policy analyst Patrick Markee was quoted as saying, “Given that we’ve got record homelessness in New York City, the serious need was for a change in direction…the appointment of Diamond does not send that message.” The new commissioner, he says, “seems to have a philosophy that homelessness is somehow the failure of families and individuals who are homeless. So it’s a troubling thought.”
We’ll be following this closely, so check back to the blog for updates.