May 25, 2023
VOCAL-NY APPLAUDS CITY COUNCIL FOR VOTING TO IMPROVE CITYFHEPS VOUCHER PROGRAM; CALLS ON MAYOR ADAMS TO SIGN IMMEDIATELY
NEW YORK — Today, the New York City Council passed legislation that would improve CityFHEPs into an efficient rental assistance program that will work towards reducing the shelter population, eliminate existing barriers to rental assistance eligibility, and remove bureaucratic rules that make it difficult for voucher holders to secure housing. VOCAL-NY, alongside Neighbors Together, Make the Road NY, Community Service Society, and the Legal Aid Society, have fought to improve the implementation shortfalls and expansion of CityFHEPS since 2022.
The following bills will strengthen CityFHEPS into a tool that confronts homelessness:
- Int. No. 0229 (Caban): Prohibits the Department of Social Services (DSS) from deducting a Utility Allowance from rental payments issued by the agency.
- Int. No. 0878 (Ayala): Eliminates the “90-day rule” that forces individuals and families to reside in a shelter for at least 3 months before becoming eligible for rental assistance.
- Int. No. 0893 (Sanchez): Expands CityFHEPS Eligibility for Rental Assistance to rent-burdened households and those at risk of eviction.
- Int. No. 0894 (Sanchez): Ends work requirement as a precondition for CityFHEPS eligibility and updates income requirements to make more people eligible.
In response, VOCAL-NY released the following statement attributable to David Gaynor, a leader with VOCAL-NY’s Homelessness Union, who is also a voucher holder:
“These bills are essential for fulfilling the potential of the CityFHEPS program, and as soon as they become law, they will help lift thousands of people off the streets and out of shelters,” said David “While our state government struggles to pass and fund programs to address our growing crisis, we are glad to see Council Members step up with common sense solutions, whereas the Mayoral administration has repeatedly fallen short.”
Speaker Adrienne Adams, Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, and Council Members Pierina Sanchez and Tiffany Caban have shown leadership in tackling the ever-worsening homelessness crisis by passing this CityFHEPS legislative package. The prior Council began the work of improving CityFHEPS by streamlining the city’s voucher system and raising CityFHEPS rental payments at a fair market rate by passing Local Law 071-2021. The New York City Council must continue to focus on legislative and budgetary efforts rooted in access to services and care, ending the criminalization of homelessness, and removing barriers homeless New Yorkers face in securing permanent housing.
New York City is experiencing the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. Mayor Adams and his administration are scrambling to house the influx of asylum seekers coming to New York City, and are putting people in harm’s way in the process.
New York City’s shelter system has already failed to transition people into permanent housing – a consequence of several issues with the CityFHEPs Voucher Program. By reforming the CityFHEPs program and expanding its availability to all New Yorkers, the City can transition people out of our overburdened shelter system into long-term, permanent housing.