Housing in Brief: Big Profit, Big Questions Surround New York Eviction Relief Program

Also: LA expands an anti-camping ordinance, and Sacramento purchases 102 acres for homeless services

(Mural artist unknown; photo by Dave R / CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Private Company Distributing New York’s Eviction Prevention Money Claims Large Profits

The Washington Post released audio of the CEO of Guidehouse, the private company hired to allocate funds for New York state’s eviction prevention program, claiming the contract brought in “38% margins.” It suggests the state was overcharged by the company, whose rollout of the funds were gravely delayed, not arriving until August. While the company claims in a statement to the Post that the 38% figure only represents gross income before factoring in their overhead, two former executives from the company said this is an unlikely explanation.

A spokesperson for the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance told The Post, “It is beyond troubling that a company partially responsible for recurring technical issues in the processing of applications and payments for New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program would allegedly boast of its success in profiting off the misfortune of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.”

The Guidehouse contract was worth $115 million. New York’s $2 billion rental assistance program ran out of funding last November. Governor Kathy Hochul requested another nearly $1 billion to cover arrears and administrative costs but was given only $27 million by the treasury department.

Los Angeles Expands Anti-Camping Ordinance

Yahoo News provides an update on an anti-camping ordinance passed by the City Council last July and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. The law, which went into effect last September, prohibits sleeping, sitting or obstructing public spaces near schools, daycare facilities, parks or libraries. The city council voted on January 12 to expand the ordinance to 58 more locations, according to ABC News. One council member who represents skid row told Yahoo News the approach is a triage intended to connect people with beds, but service providers continue to point out that there is neither enough permanent housing nor enough shelter beds for people who are unsheltered. (Today’s housing story about the 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors also gets into the motivation of Mayors who chose to deal with visible homelessness through enforcement.)

Sacramento Purchases 102 Acres for Homeless Services

Leaders in Sacramento purchased a 102-acre parcel of land to be used for homeless services, according to Cap Radio. The land could eventually be used for affordable housing or a community park, leaders said, but in the short term will act as a safe parking site for Sacramentans who reside in their vehicles. (Next City reported on another safe RV site in San Francisco in December.)

Local councilmember Mai Vang said she’d host a series of community listening sessions to determine how the land will be used. The land was purchased for $12.3 million using a combination of the city’s general fund, affordable housing trust fund, and funds from a sales tax increase set aside for city services, the latter of which passed by ballot referendum in 2012. Unsurprisingly, the plans have already led to community pushback from homeowners. The city has not set a timeline for the safe parking site, nor stated whether it will increase enforcement of people living in vehicles outside the site.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: new york cityhomelessnessevictions

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