Housing and homelessness have been major talking points amongst mayoral candidates as of late, and with only two weeks away from the June 22 primary, hopefuls are steaming through their campaign trail with promises to bring change for those who need it most.
Since the onslaught of the novel coronavirus, New York City has been facing a housing crisis not seen since the Great Depression that could only grow worse with a wave of evictions looming overhead as the rent moratorium comes to an end. This could leave some gigantic hurdles for the next mayor of New York City to overcome when attempting to resuscitate the economy.
On June 8, mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan addressed the state of homelessness facing New York City, as well as its impact on LGBTQ+ youth outside Trinity Place Shelter on the Upper West Side.
“Over 50 years ago this month, LGBTQ New Yorkers rose up against injustice at the Stonewall Inn ultimately leading to the celebration we call Pride, commemorating their bravery in the face of opposition and oppression. A lot has changed in our city and our country for LGBTQ neighbors since then and I am proud to have helped contribute to some of that change during my 30-year career in public service,” Donovan said, retelling his past efforts as leader of HUD and the long-awaited Supreme Court decision that prohibited discrimination based on gender.
Donovan stressed that while the country and state have made strides in progress for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, more needs to be done. Pointing at Trinity Place Shelter, he stated that this site houses many of the city’s LGTBQ+ youth, serving as an example of the injustice still being experienced. He shared that about 7% of New York City’s youth population identifies as LGTBQ+; however, they also represent approximately 40% of homeless individuals.
“It is completely unacceptable. The disproportionate level of homelessness being experienced by this community is clearly the result of intense societal prejudice, but it is also the result of an incompetent and uncompassionate leadership at every level of government,” Donovan said.
As an example, he cited the Trump administration’s effort to push for a ruling in July 2020 that would replace housing protections for transgender individuals. Donovan called this act a demonization of the transgender community and implores the Biden-Harris administration to withdraw this proposal and reestablish equal access.
“Our federal, state, and local governments should work together to extend the promise of the Fair Housing Act and equal access rule into lasting change by ensuring the most vulnerable LGBTQ people can find decent, safe, and affordable housing,” Donovan said, adding, “As mayor, I’m committed to $2 billion of additional capital each year to build truly affordable housing, including the creation of 30,000 new affordable housing units per year.”
In addition to his promise to developing affordable housing, Donovan also added that he would address the broader patterns of discrimination by making sure to invest in health, education, and employment opportunities, and provide easier access to these programs and rental assistance.
While Donovan assured that he will make every effort to provide safety and security to the LGBTQ+ community, amNewYork Metro asked the mayoral hopeful what steps he will take toward helping foster care and homeless youth who have been lured into prostitution in order to survive.
“Youth aging out of foster care are disproportionately likely to end up on our streets and end up in shelters. That is why as Housing Commissioner I built the first-ever housing specifically directed to youth aging out of foster care. This is absolutely another vulnerable population that we have to prevent homelessness among,” Donovan said, adding, “It’s time to stop discriminating against sex workers. If you look at my criminal justice platform this is a central part of the platform that I am proposing.”
With June being a celebratory occasion for members of the LGBTQ+ community, Donovan reminds the city that there are gay and transgender youth suffering, and it is incumbent on elected officials like the mayor to ensure they are properly cared for.
“So, as we celebrate pride out on our street this month, we cannot that forget that those who have been forced to sleep on our streets through no fault of their own and do everything we can to provide them with safety and security they need and deserve. That’s the progressive vision our city needs and that what I will bring to the city as mayor,” Donovan said.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.