An Open Letter to Governor Paterson

For Your Reading // MYD Itself

Dear Governor David Paterson,

The Manhattan Young Democrats and our Committee on Community and Social Equity (CASE) respectfully request that the Office of New York State Governor David Paterson intervene immediately to prevent the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from implementing rules requiring shelter residents to pay rent.

The Bloomberg administration decided to implement this policy, established under Governor George Pataki, during his previous administration. As a result of a public outcry, these rules were temporarily suspended shortly after they were put into effect.

However, now that the Mayoral election is over, we expect them to be re-imposed imminently. If nothing is done to stop him, New York City will begin to charge shelter residents rent and will require their adherence to multiple rules and regulations – under the threat of 30 day removal from the shelter with the likely consequence of children being removed to foster care.

Legislation to reverse these draconian measures has been introduced and passed in the State Assembly and may be introduced in the State Senate as early as this week. We, the Manhattan Young Democrats, strongly suggest that your Office take immediate action to ensure the passage of this legislation in the State Senate.

As a group, the Manhattan Young Democrats have been disgusted with the inefficiency of the State Senate and the generally abhorrent behavior which has been exhibited by some of its members. As an all-volunteer organization of young professionals who represent the future of our City, the Manhattan Young Democrats cannot tolerate the disgrace that our City, our State, and our Party should feel if this policy is permitted.

These measures are punitive and illogical, and the absurd timing of this policy is clear. Homelessness in New York City is widely expected to continue rising as unemployment deepens. Foreclosures, and the inability of renters to pay due to job losses, are strong predictors of a surge in the homeless population. Goldman Sachs has suggested that unemployment will stabilize at 10% in 2010. Worse, The Fiscal Policy institute recently released a study which states that real unemployment in New York City is close to 20%. This is due to the mis-classification of workers as independent contractors and job losses in the shadow economy – both of which contribute to the prevalence of citizens not being counted in the unemployment numbers because they are not eligible to file for Unemployment Insurance.

This lack of eligibility affects working families. Many already live below the poverty line and are at extreme risk of homelessness if one income is lost. These families cannot afford to pay rent in a homeless shelter.

When a reported 15,500 children sleep in New York City homeless shelters each night, this policy cannot be the answer. The removal of children to foster care has a negative affect on family and neighborhood safety and stability. Multiple studies have proven that children who are removed to foster care do not perform well in school and are at greater risk of falling behind or dropping out – increasing the likelihood that these children will end up homeless as adults. A policy that deliberately destabilizes families by encouraging their separation due to homelessness is not only unjust, it adds to the problem.

We ask the Office of the Governor of New York State to intervene immediately to prevent the implementation of this harmful measure. Please tell Mayor Bloomberg and the State Senate that we will not accept punitive and draconian policy. At a time when the citizens of our great City are struggling, it is unethical and an unwise to impose rules which will certainly divide families and leave more people on the street.


The Manhattan Young Democrats

The Manhattan Young Democrats Committee on Community and Social Equity

Join our CASE Committee here.