Public Policy Priorities


It is plainly evident that homelessness is one of the central public policy challenges of our times. Between those living on the streets or in shelter, those who are housing insecure or severely rent burdened and the many Americans who are one missed paycheck or medical emergency from facing homelessness, it is a crisis that hit close to home for many. A few solutions that can be emplaced:

A Comprehensive Plan

All levels of government need to coordinate a streamlined process includes rather than continues to silo important components of this issue—housing development, mental health services, the hospital system, workforce development, financial stability and dedicated aftercare and follow up on those who obtain permanent housing.

Fix the Placements

The voucher placement and referral process in New York City is broken, both in initial lease-up and re-rentals. The Citizens Action and Planning Council (CHPC) has found that it takes an average of 430 days from when a housing lottery opens to when its units are filled.

The Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP)

New York State’s proposed HAVP would be a flexible new voucher program that would help fill gaps in service left by existing programs like Section 8 and FHEPS.


Our East Clark Place Senior Residence is an example of the kind of modern, service-oriented and environmentally sustainable development that VOA-GNY is proud to contribute in the fight for affordable housing so desperately needed in our region. Unfortunately, the development received more than 26,000 applications for 122 units. This speaks to the enormity of the need. A few solutions that can be emplaced:

More Housing Capital

In both New York City and New York State, we need more investment in capital funding for housing development. The development pipeline is years-long with more worthy projects than there is funding.

Properly Staff the Agencies

Staffing shortages at New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) mean that project closings get delayed, wait times for approvals is long and there aren’t enough government staffers to review things.

Encourage Development & Expedite ULURP

In both New York City as well as the surrounding region, there are too many roadblocks to developing affordable housing. Processes meant for important community input are weaponized against subsidized housing, because of concerns about property values, density or about lower income people generally. Government must better ensure communities do their fair share and welcome new neighbors.


    VOA-GNY works with its partners in government to operate the many programs which serve our clients. Unfortunately, in New York City, the government does not hold up its end of the bargain. Our contracts are registered late, budget modifications are cumbersome, and we aren’t paid money owed to us, sometimes for many months or even a year after it is due. A few solutions that can be emplaced:

    Fix the System

    Through staffing, technical fixes, streamlining and reduction of unnecessary red tape, New York City must adopt the recommendations put forth in the report “A Better Contract for New York: A Joint Task Force to Get Nonprofits Paid on Time” spearheaded by the NYC Comptroller’s office.

    NYC Council Int. 0011, Int. 0012 and Int. 0013

    This package of legislation by Councilmember Justin Brannan reform and add transparency to the procurement process and should be taken up by the Council.


    Our staff are the engine that drives all the positive impact that VOA-GNY has on our clients. They are hardworking and client-focused, making transformational change every day in the lives of those they serve. Unfortunately, they are paid below their worth due to the fact that their pay rates are set by the government contracts our programs receive. A few solutions that can be emplaced:

    A fair wage floor of $21/hour

    All human service workers, not only at VOA-GNY but in the human services sector generally, should receive no less than $21/hour from government.

    Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) 

    Inflation is going up while wages for human service workers remain flat. Our workers deserve COLA that are permanent, consistent and tied to inflation to ensure their wages are rising to meet costs.


      Proper mental health services are critically important to helping our clients in a number of different areas, such as in finding and keeping housing, obtaining employment and living in dignity. We know how difficult it is for many to get the mental health services they need. A few solutions that can be emplaced:

      A Full Spectrum of Care 

      Policymakers must prioritize creation of a streamlined system of care that is client-focused, and views all of their needs comprehensively—housing, mental and physical health, financial stability.

      More Psychiatric Beds in Hospitals 

      In recent years, the pandemic has exacerbated existing trends that reduced hospital bed capacity for psychiatric care. This leads to a “revolving door” of people with serious mental health needs shuffling between emergency rooms, the streets, and law enforcement.

      Don’t Center a Law Enforcement Response 

      Law enforcement and the criminal justice system is not the answer to an individual with a mental health crisis. Law enforcement-led sweeps of the subways and streets and 911 responses to mental health episodes can exacerbate a situation.


        Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. At VOA-GNY, we take this issue seriously, running a number of confidential residential programs for those seeking to leave dangerous domestic situations. A few solutions that can be emplaced:

        Increase Length of Stay

        Currently, the length of stay for a residential DV program is 180 days. We have found that this is often not enough to address root causes, help heal trauma and obtain permanent housing for the client.

        Better Training for Institutions at Initial Touchpoint

        Individuals who come into contact with people possibly experiencing DV, including law enforcement and medical professionals, should be mandated to have better training in how to notice the signs, respond appropriately, and steer the person toward support services.

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