The City Council urged Mayor Eric Adams and the Department of Social Services (DSS) to implement newly-passed laws that offer better support for unhoused residents.
City Council members said the mayor seems to be ignoring four laws that focus on protecting recipients of CityFHEPS, a rental assistance program that helps individuals and families to find and keep housing.
The laws include one that removes shelter stay as a precondition for CityFHEPS eligibility, one that removes certain eligibility restrictions for CityFHEPS, another that shifts CityFHEPS voucher eligibility from 200% of the federal poverty level to 50% of the area median income, and a final one — sponsored by Council Member Tiffany Cabán — that prevents DSS from deducting utility allowances from the maximum voucher amount.
“I’m tired of Mayor Adams showing such contempt for the council, our speaker, and New Yorkers facing homelessness” said Cabán. “The housing crisis is too critical for the mayor to turn his back on New Yorkers in need of urgent relief. This legislation is not a helpful suggestion, it is the law of the land. Mayor Adams is obligated to implement it.”
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams sent a letter to DSS Commissioner Molly Wasow Park saying the council would seek legal action if the laws were not implemented by February 7.
“The council advanced reforms to the CityFHEPS program to confront record homelessness and the eviction crisis in our city,” said Adams. “It is imperative that the administration takes concrete and meaningful steps to implement these new laws. Keeping New Yorkers at-risk of eviction in their homes and providing pathways to stable, permanent housing from shelters must continue to be a priority for this city.”
New Yorkers who experienced housing insecurity spoke about the difficulties of living without stable housing.
“We need to actually start housing people instead of warehousing them in shelters,” said Calvin Michael, leader with the Safety Net Activists. “As someone who used CityFHEPS to move out of shelter, I know how important these laws are to getting people housed. The city needs to follow them now.”