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Is NYCHA Still Using Marijuana Offenses as Grounds for Eviction?

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says that the agency has not yet heeded the 2019 NYC Council resolution.
NYCHA’s Astoria Houses in December 2011.
NYCHA’s Astoria Houses in December 2011. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is calling on the New York City Housing Authority to stop using marijuana offenses as grounds for eviction.

Williams, helped pushed through a resolution in the City Council on March 28, 2019 that directed NYCHA to stop denying applicants, as well as permanently excluding and evicting residents and their loved ones, for allegedly possessing marijuana in quantities of less than two ounces in non-public space, and between two and eight ounces in public space.

At the time, prospective public housing residents could be barred for NYCHA residency for up to three years if convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession, under the federal law.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the NYC Public Advocate said that NYCHA still hadn't updated its policy.

"This ban is inherently inequitable – people in whiter, wealthier communities are able to openly use recreational marijuana at home, while NYCHA residents – often lower income New Yorkers of more color – could lose their homes for doing the same," he said.

The agency disagreed.  “NYCHA does not evict residents for low-level marijuana offenses, despite operating under HUD and federal guidelines, in which marijuana is still illegal," said Chief Communications Officer Barbara Brancaccio.

The agency sees this as a publicity stunt to get media attention. Williams, however, is sticking with his viewpoint, pointing out the failure of government on this issue.

"While the city, state, and federal government fail to adequately support and protect NYCHA tenants from mold, pests, and other hazards, their focus should be on enforcing basic building codes, rather than harmful, outdated policies," he said.


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