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Cuomo relents on NYC homeless aid request

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on March 6, 2014,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on March 6, 2014, in Manhattan. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reopened the door Wednesday to Mayor Bill de Blasio's bid to secure state funds to combat homelessness, with a Cuomo administration source saying the governor is "trying to actively resolve" the issue.

Cuomo earlier this week said de Blasio's efforts had come "too late" for the April 1 budget deadline. De Blasio wants language removed from the state budget that bars state aid for a rent-subsidy program and on Tuesday admitted to "miscommunication" with Albany.

"The governor is trying to actively resolve" the homelessness issue, a Cuomo administration source said, noting that he "has a long legacy of combating homelessness." Cuomo founded the Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged program, or HELP, in the 1980s, and urged an overhaul of the city's shelter system in the '90s.

De Blasio spokeswoman Maibe Ponet Wednesday said the mayor knows Cuomo "deeply cares about addressing the homelessness crisis." "We look forward to continuing our work together for an immediate plan to help working families exit shelter and into private housing," she said in a statement.

A Cuomo administration official had said that the mayor's office never presented a formal proposal for a rent-subsidy program and never scheduled a meeting on the topic.

The City Council Wednesday voted 50-0, with one member absent, to pass a resolution calling on state officials to remove the budget language. Council Member Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) said striking the language was a first step to establishing a rent-subsidy program, but added, "It's accepted that we don't have a program ready for April 1."

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