City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and the Legal Aid Society say they’re planning to sue Mayor Eric Adams’ administration if it doesn’t implement new laws meant to expand housing aid to more low-income New Yorkers.
In May, the Council passed measures to provide CityFHEPS housing vouchers to people facing eviction before they’re forced to enter homeless shelters, and to make more New Yorkers eligible for the subsidies, despite Mayor Adams’ opposition. He ended up vetoing the four-bill package, but lawmakers overrode his veto a month later.
Adams has continued to bash the legislation, citing a $17 billion price tag put forward by his budget office. But the city’s Independent Budget Office on Monday countered the mayor’s claim, saying the administration had inflated the package’s cost with high per-voucher cost estimates. Meanwhile, in a letter last month, Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Park told the Council the bills would be too expensive for the agency to enact.
But Speaker Adams said the tools in the package are crucial for chipping away at the city’s record-high homelessness crisis and for keeping more low-income renters in their apartments.
In a letter to Park on Tuesday, she said the Council will sue if the new laws, which are scheduled to take effect the same day, are not implemented by Feb. 7.
“DSS’s refusal to enforce duly enacted laws passed by the Council is unlawful and unacceptable,” the speaker wrote. “Every day DSS delays in implementing the laws is a day that more New Yorkers needlessly end up or remain in homeless shelters, and the city faces unnecessary legal liability.”
The nonprofit Legal Aid Society also announced plans Tuesday morning to sue the administration on behalf of its clients.
“With a burgeoning shelter population and evictions surging citywide, public health demands that the reforms be allowed to live up to their full intended promise,” said Robert Desir, an attorney with the group.
City Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The CityFHEPS voucher program covers the majority of rent for low-income New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Recipients qualify for the program based on their income and pay no more than 30% of their earnings toward rent.
DSS says the program has helped more than 30,000 New Yorkers find and maintain permanent housing, though administrative problems and discrimination by landlords and agents frequently hamper the move-in process.