Biography

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi
Andrew D. Hevesi was first elected to serve the residents of the 28th district in the New York State Assembly on May 10, 2005. A lifelong resident of the area, Assemblyman Hevesi has been privileged to represent the constituents of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Middle Village, Glendale, and Kew Gardens.

In February 2015, Assemblyman Hevesi was named Chairman of the Assembly Social Services Committee, which is responsible for providing oversight of programs administered by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and analyzing the state’s multi-billion dollar funding allotment for social services each fiscal year. In this role, the Assemblyman reviews legislation addressing financial, medical, and other support for people in need throughout New York State.

Homelessness

In order to address the worst homeless crisis in New York since the Great Depression, Assemblyman Hevesi partnered with the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing and the Supportive Housing Network to work towards the creation of 35,000 units of Statewide Supportive Housing for the chronically homeless. In 2015, Assemblyman Hevesi gathered bipartisan support of 133 of his Assembly colleagues and called for the development of 35,000 new units of supportive housing over the next ten years. Subsequently, the Governor announced in his 2016 State of the State Address that New York State would fund 20,000 of these units, and in the 2016-2017 enacted budget, $1 Billion was allocated to build the first 6,000 units. The Mayor of the City of New York also publicly committed, and is currently in the process of building, 15,000 units of supportive housing in New York City.

Unfortunately, in 2016 New York State reported to The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that in New York, over 19,000 more people enter homelessness per year than exit homelessness each year. Recognizing that New York State has done nothing of scale to address this growing trend of homelessness, Assemblyman Hevesi began working with the Coalition for the Homeless, the Empire Justice Center, the Legal Aid Society, and the New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence to create the Home Stability Support (HSS) program to stem the tide of homelessness in New York State.

HSS is a new statewide rental supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance that are currently homeless, facing eviction, or have lost their housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. This program is designed to be 100% state-funded, thereby providing mandate relief to financially strained counties. 126 members of the NYS Assembly support HSS as do 36 members of the NYS Senate. In addition, the Mayor, the Comptroller and the Public Advocate of the City of New York as well as over 40 members of the New York City Council are in support. 13 members of the New York Congressional Delegation as well as a number of County Executives, Mayors, and advocacy groups across the state have joined the coalition in support of HSS. Additionally, The New York Times and several other papers have supported this program in their editorial pages.

As support for the enactment of HSS continues to grow, Assemblyman Hevesi secured $15 million in the 2018-19 state budget to create a new rent subsidy pilot program for homeless households and those at risk of homelessness. This program is the first state-funded homeless prevention program to provide a rent subsidy at 100% of the Fair Market Rent Standard. The program will provide stable housing for 240 households in New York City and Rochester and, as a pilot program, will demonstrate that a broad-based rental supplement tied to the fair market standard, like HSS, is the only way to reverse the increasing trend of homelessness.

Runaway and Homeless Youth

The Assemblyman secured a budget allocation of $2.1 million in FY 2015-2016 which enabled hundreds of Runaway and Homeless Youth across New York State to obtain suitable housing, food, counseling, transportation, and other support.

Human Trafficking

In an effort to protect survivors of human trafficking, Assemblyman Hevesi wrote the law requiring long and short-term safe houses for those fleeing trafficking in New York State. The bill passed with unanimous support in both the Senate and Assembly and was signed into law in August of 2018. The services offered in both short and long-term facilities will be culturally competent, and shall include case management, health care, mental health counseling, drug addiction screening and treatment, language interpretation and translation services, English language instruction, job training and placement assistance, post-employment services for job retention, and services to help the survivor and their family members establish permanent residency.

The Assemblyman also wrote the law that expands the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking to include seven new members, requires the creation of several issue specific subcommittees with an annual reporting requirement to the legislature including recommendations on how to prosecute purveyors and protect victims of these atrocious crimes. Subsequent to the passage of this law, Assemblyman Hevesi was appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie to the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking.

Domestic Violence

To protect victims of domestic violence, the first law Assemblyman Hevesi wrote in the legislature increased penalties for repeat perpetrators of domestic violence that violate orders of protections and commit the most serious crimes, including physical abuse and stalking. This law increased the maximum penalty for those violations from criminal contempt in the first degree, a class E felony, to aggravated criminal contempt, a class D felony which has a penalty of up to 7 years in prison.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed into law the legislation created by Assemblyman Hevesi that enables survivors of domestic violence to terminate leases in unsafe residences. This new law will help ensure the immediate well-being of survivors without having to incur undue financial burdens. Specifically, this law: 1) Changes the lease termination procedure by eliminating the requirement that a survivor obtain a Court Order of Protection, which will help avoid complications when a survivor is seeking to vacate an unsafe residence 2) Eliminates a provision requiring that a survivor notify a co-tenant who is their abuser prior to securing the lease termination3) Expands the categories of documentation required to corroborate the tenant's status as a Domestic Violence Survivor to include: police reports, medical reports, and certifications from domestic violence service providers as well as Orders of Protection 4) Shortens the time period between initiation of the process and the termination date 5) Eliminates the requirement that the tenant seeking to terminate a lease be current on rental payments 6) Creates a new subsection detailing how rent and any security deposit will be handled 7) Establishes a defense to a subsequent legal action for rental arrears brought by the landlord based on compliance with the notice and required documentation 8) Explicitly preserves a landlords right to seek rental arrears owed prior to the termination date 9) Creates a new subsection to outline and clarify the treatment of other tenants and occupants upon termination 10) Creates a new subsection that prohibits a lessor or owner from disclosing the terminating tenants whereabouts and / or utilization of this statute to any person or agency 11) Creates a new subsection which establishes damages for violation of this statute. Domestic violence is the number one driver of homelessness in New York City, this legislation will help change that.

Childhood Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In 2019, Assemblyman Hevesi wrote the law that marked the first time that "ACEs" as a term and concept has been codified into New York State Statute. This law requires that direct-care domestic violence workers be trained in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) so they can provide more comprehensive trauma-informed services to their clients.

Soon after ACEs was first codified as a term in state law, a second piece of legislation written by Assemblyman Hevesi, mandating that childcare workers be trained to recognize Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and allow workers to better understand and assist the children they see on a daily basis was signed into law. This represents another significant step in bringing trauma-informed policy to the forefront in New York State. This law will ensure that children who have experienced ACEs will not have their lives irrevocably altered by that trauma.

ACEs include exposure to abuse and neglect, parental substance abuse, parental mental illness, and domestic violence among others. Research shows that exposure to ACEs and the toxic stress it produces damages the structure and function of a child’s developing brain. Specifically, elevated levels of cortisol produce changes in the connectivity within the prefrontal cortex.

The results for children can include learning difficulties, behavioral problems, difficulty regulating emotions and increased and potentially debilitating physical and mental health issues. When left unaddressed, exposure to trauma can also have both short and long-term implications on a child's health, including headaches, fatigue, irritability, emotional outbursts, over and under eating, cardiovascular disease, asthma, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.

Kinship and Foster Care Youth

In order to help children leave the foster care system for permanent homes, Assemblyman Hevesi wrote the law amending the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP). KinGAP is designed to help children leave the foster care system and permanently stay with a relative who receives a subsidy to care for the child. The original KinGAP program was limited to relatives who were related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption. The new law expands the definition of “prospective relative guardian,” to include “fictive kin,” meaning those who are like relatives, but not necessarily related by blood, marriage or adoption such as a step-parent, a grandparent, a neighbor, or family friend, as determined by a family court judge. The new KinGAP law will enable hundreds of children to leave the foster care system, exponentially increasing their chances for success and self-sufficiency.

In 2019, Assemblyman Hevesi wrote the law allowing youth aging out of foster care to receive a rent subsidy while living with a roommate. This law will drastically increase the housing options for youth aging out of foster care and in turn, help prevent young people from falling into homelessness.

Individuals with Disabilities

To better assist disabled New Yorkers, Assemblyman Hevesi wrote the law exempting contributions to New York Achieving a Better Life Experience (NYABLE) savings accounts from public assistance evaluations. This law was signed in 2019 and will provide disabled New Yorkers with an opportunity to build savings without being penalized. The NYABLE Program was enacted in 2015 to assist individuals and families to save funds to support the health, independence and quality of life of individuals with disabilities. These accounts help individuals save and pay for expenses and services that are not necessarily covered by Medicaid or disability benefits. Funds withdrawn or transferred from NYABLE accounts are for the sole use of the beneficiary for qualified expenses only. Exempting funds in NYABLE accounts when calculating public assistance benefits will allow disabled New Yorkers to accrue savings without incurring unnecessary financial hardship.

Stopping Bad Policy Proposals from Becoming Law

During budget negotiations in 2018, Governor Cuomo proposed to cap the amount of money New York State would reimburse New York City for child welfare preventative services. New York State previously capped reimbursement for these services under Governor Pataki and saw the devastating effects including increased rates of child abuse and foster care placements. Assemblyman Hevesi led the opposition to this proposal. Ultimately the cap on reimbursement was rejected by the Assembly and the Senate and was not included in the final budget. Due to the uncapped reimbursement, we have seen increased local investment in programs offering crisis intervention, mediation services, family counseling, substance abuse treatment and anger management. By adequately funding these programs, we have reduced the number of abused and maltreated children in our state, and as a result more families have been able to stay together, all while taxpayers have saved money due to fewer children being placed in foster care or potentially entering the criminal justice system.

During the 2019 budget negotiations, Governor Cuomo again proposed a cut to preventative services for children, this time targeting the funding stream used to provide services to Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) youth. PINS youth have not committed any crimes but may be exhibiting risky behaviors such as skipping school, running away from home, or abusing drugs and alcohol. Their parents can then file a petition through family court to receive intervention and access to various programs. Once the petition is filed, the City's Administration of Children's Services (ACS) then enrolls the child in a diversion program designed to bolster a stronger relationship between parent and child, or, when absolutely necessary, places the youth in foster care. Assemblyman Hevesi led the fight that ultimately ended with the legislature successfully rejecting the Governor’s proposed cuts, thus ensuring that these critical services are able to continue.

During the 2019 budget negotiations along with the partnership of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force in the Assembly, Assemblyman Hevesi led the fight to successfully rejected the Governor’s proposal to expand background checks for legally exempt childcare providers to extended family. This proposal would have discouraged immigrant families from applying for childcare due to fear of being placed on the path to deportation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for having to disclose such information.

Also, during the 2019 budget negotiations, Assemblyman Hevesi led the fight to ensure that legally exempt childcare providers are granted the same due process rights as regulated providers, despite a proposal from Governor Cuomo that would have stripped them of their rights. By successfully thwarting this proposal, low-income and immigrant families, will continue to have access to crucial childcare subsidies and retain their due process rights.

Technology

Assemblyman Hevesi wrote the law that created the New York State information technology center, or “iCenter.” The iCenter is designed to test and evaluate technological assets before these systems are purchased in bulk, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. State agencies now have the ability to work with technology leaders in the private sector to develop the best practices, test uses of technology, and implement additional features to ensure maximum efficiency of these programs before the state buys technology assets in bulk.

Environment

Assemblyman Hevesi also wrote the law that created a Generation Attribute Tracking System for renewable energy. As New York, and the country, moves toward a market-based system to stimulate renewable energy generation, New York needed this tracking system in order to successfully monitor the sale and trade of this commodity in the marketplace and to ensure the credibility of the generation attribute certificate market.

The Assemblyman has negotiated a budget allocation of $3 million dollars in each of the FY2013-2014, FY2014-2015, FY2015-2016, FY2016-2017, FY2017-2018, FY2018-2019, and FY2019-2020 enacted budgets to upgrade antiquated freight locomotive engines that run through his district, as well as other parts of Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. These new environmentally friendly engines have significantly reduced noxious toxins released into the atmosphere, providing relief to families that live along the railways.

Preventing Waste, Fraud and Abuse of Taxpayer Funds

The Assemblyman wrote and passed the “Enterprise Fraud” law, which allows the New York State Comptroller’s Office to collect and use appropriate data from all state agencies and authorities to combat fraud, waste, and abuse. This program enables the Office of the State Comptroller to analyze data across all sectors of New York State government to systematically detect improper behavior, which has saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars since its creation in 2015.

Constituent Services

On the local level, in order to foster direct and easily accessible contact between himself and the residents of his district, Assemblyman Hevesi maintains a legislative email program that is used to update thousands of his constituents on legislation that passes through Albany, allows individuals to give feedback on pending legislation before votes are cast, and keeps constituents updated regarding events and programs taking place throughout the community. The Assemblyman and his staff pride themselves on their hands-on approach to each unique constituent case, and have successfully dealt with thousands of individual concerns since the Assemblyman took office.

Andrew obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Queens College. He served as Chief of Staff to former New York State Assemblyman Jeff Klein. Andrew was also the Director of Community Affairs for New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and worked in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. Currently, Andrew lives in Forest Hills with his wife Rachel and their daughter.