Albany, NY - January 3, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an Executive Order to protect homeless individuals from inclement winter weather where temperatures decline to 32 degrees or below. The order will ensure that homeless individuals are directed to shelter during inclement winter weather which can cause hypothermia, serious injury and death. It also requires homeless shelters to extend their hours of operations so that those without shelter can remain indoors. The State will assist local social services districts if they are lacking facilities, resources or expertise.
The Governor’s Executive Order can be viewed here, and the full text is available below. A rush transcript of the Governor’s interview on NY1 where he discussed the Executive Order, among other topics, is also available below.
E X E C U T I V E O R D E R
EMERGENCY DECLARATION REGARDING HOMELESSNESS
DURING INCLEMENT WINTER WEATHER
WHEREAS, New York State is currently in the winter season and is subject to inclement winter weather that poses an imminent danger to public health and safety; and
WHEREAS, such inclement winter weather means air temperatures at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, including National Weather Service calculations for windchill; and
WHEREAS, when such inclement winter weather occurs, it presents a threat to the life, health, and safety of the State’s citizens, particularly to persons who are homeless, including the risk of hypothermia and potentially death; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to the New York State Constitution, the State of New York has an obligation to provide for the aid, care and support of persons in need and to protect and promote the health of its citizens; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative that the State act to ensure that such aid, care and support is provided to address the needs of the State’s homeless population, which need is further heightened during the winter months; and
WHEREAS, homelessness is an issue that impacts citizens in all regions of the State, from large cities to small towns and rural communities; and
WHEREAS, certain parts of the State are facing a crisis of homelessness unprecedented in recent history; and
WHEREAS, the State has a comprehensive system of more than 77,000 emergency shelter beds for homeless single adults, families, and unaccompanied youth, designed to meet the housing and supportive services needs of these homeless residents; and
WHEREAS, localities customarily work in coordination with police agency resources and local social service providers to conduct outreach to the homeless and to facilitate their transfer to sheltered locations; and
WHEREAS, the State will assist local social services districts if they are lacking facilities, resources or expertise; and
WHEREAS, the State will be imminently commencing and mandating that local social service districts establish comprehensive regional housing and supportive service networks designed to meet the diverse needs of each subgroup within the homeless population; and
WHEREAS, New York State law is clear and well-established that the State can take appropriate steps, including involuntary placement, to protect individuals from harming themselves or others;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State of New York, Sections 28 and 29 of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, and consistent with the Laws of the State of New York, including the Mental Hygiene Law, and the judicial interpretations of those laws, do hereby issue this Executive Order to mitigate the effects of such inclement winter weather and the resulting impacts of such weather on individuals experiencing homelessness;
FURTHER, I direct all local social service districts, police agencies including the New York State Police, and state agencies to take all necessary steps to identify individuals reasonably believed to be homeless and unwilling or unable to find the shelter necessary for safety and health in inclement winter weather, and move such individuals to the appropriate sheltered facilities;
FURTHER, I direct all local social service districts to take all necessary steps to extend shelter hours, to allow individuals who are homeless to remain indoors, to instruct homeless service outreach workers to work with other relevant personnel and to work with local police in relation to the involuntarily transport of at-risk individuals who refuse to go inside and who appear to be at-risk for cold related injuries to appropriate facilities for assessment consistent with the provisions of section 9.41 of the Mental Hygiene Law, and to work in coordination with the State Police and all police agencies to ensure that homeless individuals receive assistance as needed to protect the public health and safety and at all times consistent with the State’s Constitution and existing statutes;
FURTHER, I direct all local social services districts to comply with their obligation to ensure that all facilities used for temporary housing assistance placements are safe, clean, well maintained and supervised and fully compliant with existing state and local laws, regulations, administrative directives, and guidelines; and
FURTHER, this order shall take effect on January 5, 2016 and supersede all local laws, as well as any local directives, guidance, or policies to the contrary.
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this third day of January in the year two thousand sixteen.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor
Rush transcript of Governor’s interview on NY1:
Kristen Shaughnessy: Good morning Governor.
Governor Cuomo: Good morning Kristin. Happy New Year.
Kristin Shaughnessy: Happy New Year to you too. So, you signed this Executive Order today, it goes into effect on Tuesday, and really just want to make sure that when these cold temperatures hit, that there are no homeless left of the streets.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, you know how people have a New Year’s resolution right? Everybody makes a New Year’s resolution or many people do. Well, this is a State’s New Year resolution, a New Year resolution for the State of New York and in many ways, its keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, right? Which makes it very simple. It’s about love. It’s about compassion. It’s about helping one another and basic human decency. This Executive Order, which is signed by the Governor and is statewide, says in freezing temperature, freezing conditions, people who have no place to go should be given shelter, that’s what it says. We call them homeless, which is a word I’m not crazy about because it’s confusing because there’s a lot of different people within the homeless population. Our state, which has a beautiful tradition of social progress and community, should not leave anyone outside in freezing temperatures. That’s called basic humanity.
Kristen Shaughnessy: Now, you have been critical of Mayor de Blasio’s dealings with the homeless here in the city. Is that part of the reason you went ahead with this Executive Order?
Governor Cuomo: No. I’ve worked on the homeless issue all my life. You’re too young to remember but…
Kristen Shaughnessy: I do actually…
Governor Cuomo: Well, you’re still too young. I actually started my career in my twenties building and running shelters for the homeless. I started an organization called HELP that is still operational today. My sister Maria runs it, and it’s one of the largest providers for homeless families in the country. It’s all over the country now. Maria actually did a better job than I did. So, this is an issue that’s very important to me. It’s an issue that’s important statewide and it’s a basic state mandate. It’s going to be 14 degrees in Buffalo today. Its 13 degrees in Syracuse. We should not leave people on the streets to freeze, period. We agree, I believe that almost universally, will agree with that edict as a people, as New Yorkers, as the beacon for social justice. This state does things that other states don’t do. This state is the capital of progressive social innovation. We passes marriage equality, we stopped discrimination, we passed gun laws that no other state passed. Why? Because we believe in social justice and we raise the bar and this is part of it.
Kristen Shaughnessy: Let me just go back to this particular Executive Order. Is this something that you discussed with the Mayor beforehand and you do think his recent motions that he is hearing what the public is saying, are you pleased with that? Are you satisfied with that?
Governor Cuomo: I think it is a fact that homelessness is on the increase in New York City. I think everybody recognizes that and I think everybody recognizes that that is a significant problem. I did a report for Mayor David Dinkins, I’m in a nostalgic mood today. I was a young fellow who was brought in by Mayor David Dinkins to do a report on homelessness in New York City and we came up with a whole plan on how to combat homelessness in New York City. That plan was then the basis for my being selected by President Clinton to come to HUD, Housing and Urban Development. We did a national plan on homelessness. So, it is something that I have spent a great deal of time on. It’s an issue that touches basic humanity and that’s why I think it’s so appropriate during the holiday season. We have an obligation, one to another and what condition do we set as a floor as a society? And we’re saying, everyone deserves a decent place to stay, especially when it’s freezing, and we’re going to help people get back on their feet, because that’s who we are and that’s what we believe.
Kristen Shaughnessy: Alright, I want to touch on your State of that State, which is coming up on the 13th, but before do this, you know last year at this time, the three most important people in state government, obviously yourself, and also Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos and with their recent convictions, it’s a much different look as we approach 2016 and I’m just wondering your thoughts as we approach the State of the State. Obviously, people will be looking to you do address the corruption in Albany issue. And we can also talk a little bit about what else will be involved in that State of the State, but first your thoughts on the fact that two of the three men in a room, so to speak, are not there this year.
Governor Cuomo: Well, you’re right. We had the two leaders of the legislative bodies, on both the Senate and Assembly side were arrested and then convicted. We’ve had two new leaders since we did the budget last year, so, and the budget is the main legislative initiative, so we had new leaders since that time. On the Senate side the leader is Senator John Flanagan and on the Assembly side, its Assemblyman Carl Heastie, who’s now the Speaker. So I have worked with them before because the budget, as I said, is the most complex piece of legislation we pass. So I have worked with them before, because the budget as I said is the most complex piece of legislation we pass. But your point is well taken. Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform. We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven’t done enough. And I’m going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etc. That’s going to be right up at the top of the agenda. Economic development, which in Upstate New York means basically restoring the economy, and in downstate New York it means growing the future economy – the high tech economy, having the transportation infrastructure to do that – and making sure the economy is working for everyone, right? Back to social justice: we have very high unemployment among young minority males, black and brown, and it’s just unacceptable. We have to make special economic initiatives there. On education, we have failing schools in this state, today, where we have over 100,000 students in schools that we call “failing” schools. Failing schools are schools that don’t reach the basic minimum requirement by SED, the State Education Department, and many of these failing schools have been failing for over 10 years, believe it or not. And the system, the bureaucracy, has been too tolerant, in my opinion. And we are – we’re going to be focusing on the closing schools, we’re going to be investing in the school system to make sure we’re doing everything we can on the state side. So we’re going to have a very robust agenda and then the progressive government side that is very important to me. I’d like –
Kristen Shaughnessy: Just in terms of the education, you know, a lot of people are saying there is too much emphasis on testing and they would rather see a different direction there. Your thoughts?
Governor Cuomo: So I have worked with them before, because the budget as I said is the most complex piece of legislation we pass. But your point is well taken. Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform. We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven’t done enough. And I’m going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etc. That’s going to be right up at the top of the agenda. Economic development, which in Upstate New York means basically restoring the economy, and in downstate New York it means growing the future economy – the high tech economy, having the transportation infrastructure to do that – and making sure the economy is working for everyone, right? Back to social justice: we have very high unemployment among young minority males, black and brown, and it’s just unacceptable. We have to make special economic initiatives there. On education, we have failing schools in this state, today, where we have over 100,000 students in schools that we call “failing” schools. Failing schools are schools that don’t reach the basic minimum requirement by SED, the State Education Department, and many of these failing schools have been failing for over 10 years, believe it or not. And the system, the bureaucracy, has been too tolerant, in my opinion. And we are – we’re going to be focusing on the closing schools, we’re going to be investing in the school system. Education in this state is run by a department called the state education department. It is not under the Governor. I wish it were, many governors in the past wished it was, my father wished it was, but it’s not. It’s run by the Board of Regents, which is selected by the legislature, primarily the Assembly. We started a new curriculum as part of a national movement called the Common Core curriculum. And that was rolled out over the past few years; that brought with it a testing regiment on the new curriculum. It was not implemented well. It was rushed. It was confused. It created a backlash among parents that frankly shocked everyone. What’s called the opt-out movement, where the parents didn’t have the kids take the tests because they didn’t like the way it was addressed, they didn’t like that the kids were getting lower grades, whatever region, it was basically flawed implementation. We now have to go back – SED has to go back and re-implement, if you will. Change the curriculum, change the testing, introduce it to the parents, make sure they understand it. These are the recommendations of a commission that I just had them report. And bring the parents along. Because if the parents don’t have trust in the education system, then you have nothing and that’s where we are now.
Kristen Shaughnessy: You talk about that trust. I guess it extends to education and I guess it extends to state government as you talked about and I imagine that will be a big part because you’re talking about the major economic piece of your State of the State and also the social policy piece and the education piece. But you have to get the trust of the voters behind you
Governor Cuomo: You are so right and it is so simple yet it is so hard. Right? Maybe I’m more reflective coming from the holiday seasons but every relationship comes down to trust. Husband and wife –trust. Boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, child. Every relationship, it comes down to trust. Teacher, parent –trust. Our elected officials. We have to trust their integrity. That’s going to be ethics reform. And we have to trust their confidence, right? When government says “I’m going to do this,” two questions pop up in the citizen’s mind. Why? Is it good for you or is it good for me? Integrity, corruption. And second, do you actually have the competence to do it? Can you actually make it happen or are you going to waste my money? So yes, I think its trust writ large – integrity and competence when it comes to government.
Kristen Shaughnessy: And one final question. I know you have spoken about this in the past. But for those who are just hearing for the first time – any regrets in hindsight? If you had a redo would you have shut down the Moreland Commission?
Governor Cuomo: The Moreland Commission - you take an action at a time and we’re very good at the retrospective. I love Monday mornings because I can tell you exactly what the Jets did wrong and what the Gants did wrong and what the Buffalo Bills did wrong. The Moreland Commission – its purpose was primarily to get legislation passed. How do you change the system if you’re me? You get legislation passed that changes a system. Or if you can, you assume an Executive Order through executive action, which is what I’m doing today with the homeless. I wanted the legislature to change the rules of the game and that required legislation. And that’s what the Moreland Commission was to spur. And they did. See the irony and complexity going to Albany this year, and this is laws from the so-called pundits. Albany has to accept legislative reform. We just passed legislative reform and ethics reform, which they did. The Sheldon Silver case and the Dean Skelos case – they were despite all of these changes in legislation. And in my opinion, the prime mover of getting them to accept that legislation was the Moreland Commission. So we did pass a lot of reform legislation. It was, I believe, incentivized by the Moreland Commission, which brought this up and made it public and put pressure on the legislators. Despite the legislation we passed, Kristen, the Silver Case and the Skelos case happened. So now there’s an additional call for more legislation. But the short answer is Moreland did what I intended it to do and that was get the legislation passed and now we have more to do.
Kristen Shaughnessy: Thank you so much. Before we leave you though, Jets or Bills today?
Governor Cuomo: Oh no, no, no, no. Downstate New Yorkers do not appreciate – what is the only New York football team that plays in New York? The Buffalo Bills. The Jets and Giants play in New Jersey. Buffalo Bills are a very important team to this state. I love the Bills, I love the Jets, and I love the Giants. I love my daughters Mariah, Cara and Michaela. I will never pick among the three. The Jets, however, if they win, they have a hard shot and that’s the only New York team that has a shot for us now to go to the playoffs. It’s important to the Bills because of draft choices. But if the Jets win, they would actually have a good shot at winning the wild card.
Kristen: I’m not sure we’re getting an answer here.
Governor Cuomo: You’re not getting an answer here. It is I love Cara, I love Maria and I love Michaela all the same.
Kristen Shaughnessy: Thank you very much, nice to chat with you.