Mayor Adams opposes bill that would make it easier for people to leave shelters

New York City Council will approve a major expansion of a rent subsidy program this week to help people move out of homeless shelters and into new homes more quickly.

But the effort will meet a formidable opponent: Mayor Eric Adams.

A series of bills expected to be passed by committee on Thursday would repeal a requirement that people stay in shelters for 90 days before qualifying for city-funded rental vouchers — a move long sought by housing advocates. The bill would expand the number of people eligible for vouchers to include those who have received a written request from their landlord to pay rent owed.

It’s unclear how many people the measures will affect. But in a statement Tuesday, Mr. Adams opposed the bills, which target a city voucher program called the City Combatting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement. The changes, he said, would add “billions of dollars to New York taxpayers” and prevent the city from “directing our limited resources to those most in need.”

Cracks in city government as homeless shelter numbers hit record levels immigration influx Arriving from the southern border with Ongoing Housing Crisis.

Democratic Assemblyman Diana Ayala, who represents East Harlem and parts of the Bronx, is the lead sponsor of the bill targeting the 90-day rule. Make room for newcomers.

“The sooner we start, the better,” she said. “Why the delay? Why are we extending a person’s stay in a shelter?”

In theory, rent vouchers are an effective solution to homelessness: City officials note that less than 1 percent of households with children move out of shelters with the vouchers.

But the plan faces many obstacles.

Not enough affordable housing, cities are Effort subsidy Enough new apartments mean that even if someone has a voucher, it can take months to find a place to live.

Many renters with vouchers say they were rejected by the landlord, even though coupon discrimination is illegal. And the city has faced difficulties running the program.staff shortages and dysfunction available within the organization The process feels capricious For many housing seekers.

The city has undergone some changes: reduce people’s working hours For example, work is required to keep credentials.

The bill set to pass on Thursday would represent larger reforms. In addition to targeting the 90-day rule, they will also eliminate the work requirement.

“We’re trying to reduce the amount of time people spend in shelters, and we’re trying to keep them out of shelters in the first place,” said Pierina Sanchez, a Bronx Democrat who is behind two of the shelters. bill.

New York is the only major city in the country that offers a “right to asylum,” the requirement to provide a bed to anyone who needs one.The number of homeless people reached more than 78,000 In the city earlier this month, the Adams administration Already turned to hotel and Other options for housing them.

On Tuesday, Mr. Adams asked a judge to waive New York City’s longstanding obligation to provide shelter to anyone who asks, saying the shelter system is overwhelmed and unable to accommodate everyone in need.

Supporters of the bill argue that the cost to cities of the additional vouchers will be offset by reduced spending on shelters, mental health services and law enforcement. Getting more New Yorkers to live in permanent housing also leads to better public health and a healthier economy, they argue.

The financial picture is more complicated, said Andrew Laing, chairman of the Citizens Budget Council, a nonprofit fiscal watchdog.this committee estimate city Rental assistance will be provided to about 11,000 households who have left shelters this fiscal year, which ends in the summer, the highest number since the pandemic began.

In fiscal year 2015, the city spent about $16 million on rental assistance, according to the commission. During the fiscal year, the city expects to spend more than $630 million, most of it through the voucher program. The city’s rental assistance budget for next year is just $192 million, Mr. Rein said.

Recent changes, including one to increase the value of vouchers, have resulted in higher costs, according to the committee. Mr. Rein said the city should better understand how voucher costs are increasing and decide where they can be offset.

“It’s not an unreasonable choice,” Mr Rein said. “But there has to be a companion choice of where the money comes from.”

Dana Rubinstein Contribution report.

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