May 27, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Mariah McGough, Mariah@vocal-ny.org, 203-470-9979
Homeless New Yorkers Win Historic Passage of Intro 146;
Fight Continues to make CityFHEPS Stronger
NEW YORK — In response to the passage of Intro 146, VOCAL-NY released this statement attributable to Joseph Loonam, Housing Campaign Coordinator:
“After years of fighting to end ‘tickets to humiliation’ and create a housing voucher program that pays market rents, Intro 146 was passed into law today. This victory is a testament to the power of homeless New Yorkers who fought for this bill. CityFHEPS vouchers will finally align with Section 8 rates and pay enough to help people find dignified homes.
With the new CityFHEPS rental rate, over 70,000 more apartments will be accessible to people with the voucher. We are so proud of this victory, and we know it will mean housing for countless New Yorkers who have struggled so long to find homes.
But unfortunately, we did not get all the reforms we needed. In the last days of negotiations with the Administration, the City Council negotiated away key provisions that protected people from losing their voucher — without any input from directly impacted New Yorkers.
Homeless New Yorkers know how seemingly minor policy shifts can have major impacts on people’s lives, and these changes will undoubtedly force many people back to shelters or the streets. It’s clear that the fight is not over, and additional reforms will be necessary to ensure a CityFHEPS voucher never represents false hope again.
We’ll continue to stand and fight with homeless New Yorkers for as long as it takes to create a housing voucher program that meets our demands.”
Beyond increasing what the voucher would pay, VOCAL-NY also fought to change the eligibility criteria for CityFHEPS to make it easier for people to access the voucher and keep it once they finally had it. Under the new law, people who receive CityFHEPS will continue to struggle to uplift themselves out of poverty. If a person’s income increases too much — even if they are still rent burdened — they will lose their housing subsidy and if they have housing, they risk losing their apartment entirely. In addition to this change, the voucher will only last for five years, and then be up to the discretion of the Administration to be extended.
Our fight to improve the City’s rental assistance program has been a long one. When the City consolidated rental assistance programs in 2018, VOCAL-NY sent a letter outlining the many concerns gathered from homeless New Yorkers across the City about the CityFHEPS program. On multiple occasions, VOCAL-NY leaders and allies met with Commissioner Banks and the Department of Social Services about these concerns.
VOCAL-NY is committed to expanding eligibility requirements and ensuring people living on the streets and people in youth shelters have access to CityFHEPS. We must confront rampant source of income discrimination by landlords and brokers. We must fight to make the CityFHEPS program permanent for as long as anyone needs it.