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63° Good Morning

Past time to help the homeless

The state has pledged $12 million to build

The state has pledged $12 million to build new supportive housing to get youths off the streets.

It’s been almost a year since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised $2 billion toward affordable and supportive housing. His plan included 6,000 permanent housing units across the state for those who are homeless and need additional services.

The promises have yet to become reality.

That’s because using the funds and building the units require a memorandum of understanding signed by Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. All it takes is three signatures. It doesn’t need a hearing, it doesn’t even need a vote in the State Legislature, which convenes on Wednesday.

In the fall, Cuomo said he would sign his part of the memorandum, and he released detailed plans for the first 1,200 supportive housing units.

Since supportive housing — which includes mental health, drug treatment, and other key services — remains the best long-term solution to the homelessness across the state, the commitment to the 1,200 units is an important first step. Most are going to New York City, which is fighting a homelessness crisis and needs the housing.

Just 122 of the units, spread among seven projects, will be built on Long Island. But advocates say Suffolk and Nassau counties need 3,000 units of their own. So, more has to be done.

Cuomo’s promises won’t go anywhere without sign-offs from Heastie and Flanagan, who have so far agreed only to a one-year payout of $150 million. That’s virtually useless without a long-term game plan and assurances that more will materialize. There are too many unknowns, and it’s very difficult for an effort of this size and scope to succeed with such uncertainty.

There has to be a long-term agreement by all three leaders, with a timetable, location breakdown and funding guarantees. That’s the only way to hold everyone accountable, and change the lives of those who are homeless.

— The editorial board