New York City Council overrides Mayor Eric Adams' veto on housing voucher bills

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Thursday, July 13, 2023
NYC Council overrides mayor's veto on housing voucher bills
The New York City Council voted Thursday to override Mayor Eric Adams' veto of bills aimed at expanding housing voucher use; reported by Sonia Rincon.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Council voted Thursday to override Mayor Eric Adams' veto of bills aimed at expanding housing voucher use, a move that the Adams administration says could cost the city $17 billion.

The mayor signed an emergency order last month doing away with a 90-day requirement to stay in a homeless shelter to receive a CityFHEPS vouchers, the only piece of the legislative package he agreed with. He vetoed the rest.

The mayor says these bills will make it harder for homeless families in shelters to find housing and will be more expensive for the city. But the council pushed back with numbers saying it'll make it easier save money in the long run.

"It's far more cost effective to have someone in permanent housing than to continue in this expensive way that we're going, in ongoing emergency shelter," New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said.

The City Council had said it would override that veto, passing into law bills that would expand eligibility for vouchers to people at risk of eviction, remove work requirements associated with the vouchers and raise the income eligibility to receive them.

The vote final vote was 42 to 8.

The mayor's office says that package of bills could cost the city up to $17 billion over the next five years.

"The good news is that our efforts to house more New Yorkers, even in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, are working," Adams said in a statement. "On Tuesday, we announced that since lifting the 90-day rule a few weeks ago, 500 households have become immediately eligible for CityFHEPS. Thanks to training and staffing improvements at the New York City Department of Social Services, we have also connected a record number of households to permanent housing using CityFHEPS vouchers last fiscal year and placements from shelter to permanent housing increased 17 percent. Unlike the council, we do not, however, believe that New Yorkers should spend $17 billion on a package of bills that would put New Yorkers in shelter at the back of the line for a CityFHEPS voucher and make it harder for them to find permanent housing. We will continue to do all that we can to build more housing and tackle decades of exclusionary zoning policies that have prevented our city from building an adequate housing supply.

Adams said his administration is reviewing their options and next steps.

"We laud the New York City Council - especially bill sponsors Diana Ayala, Pierina Sanchez and Tiffany Caban - for taking this necessary step to enact a package of needed reforms that will ultimately prevent evictions and combat homelessness," said Robert Desir, staff attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. "But let us be clear, should the Adams Administration refuse to implement these measures or bring a challenge in court, we are prepared to intervene with litigation on behalf of our clients. Given the magnitude of the local housing crisis, we have an obligation to ensure that the New Yorkers we represent have every available option to secure a long-term, safe and affordable place to call home."

Because this is the first time the council has overridden a veto since Mike Bloomberg was mayor, the council members really had to double down on their arguments, and if they don't convince the administration, this could all end up in court.

"The fact that we have to override a veto is incomprehensible to me," New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said.

Supporters are inviting the mayor to also look at the big picture when it comes to solutions.

"You know what? You can walk and chew gum. You can increase the city's housing stock. We can pass measures to make it easier to build in the city of New York and we can look out for the most vulnerable," said councilmember Pierina Sanchez.

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