NYC lawmakers ramping up fight against Section 8 proposal

They say 55,000 low-income households will be forced to pay much more in rent

Sep.September 29, 2016 09:50 AM

Lawmakers and housing advocates have joined together to rally against an Obama administration proposal they say is the “greatest near-term threat” to New York City’s housing affordability.

In June, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed changing how rental subsidies for Section 8 low-income tenants are allocated. Under the proposal, subsidies for those renters would decrease in low income neighborhoods, but increase in high-income neighborhoods. The idea of the proposal, which would apply to poor areas in New York City and 30 other metro areas, is to encourage subsidy recipients to move into wealthier areas and have access to better schools, jobs and opportunities.

The plan has been criticized by New York State and City officials, who say there aren’t enough apartments in the city’s neighborhoods to accommodate the 119,000 voucher holders.

Now the head of the New York City Housing Authority, Shola Olatoye, and other lawmakers are joining the fight, saying it will mean 55,000 lower-income households will pay more rent and arguing New York City should be exempt, Politico reported.

“The trouble with the program is that it’s effectively punishing poor people for living in poor neighborhoods,” Bronx council member Ritchie Torres said at a press conference on Wednesday, according to Politico.

Low-income tenants currently pay 30 percent of their income towards rent, with the federal subsidy making up the difference based on the market price in the area. If the proposal goes ahead, the amount paid out in high-poverty areas with lower rents would go down. An analysis by the New York Daily News showed that in the South Bronx, for example, the average rent cutoff would be lowered from $1,727 to $1,287 — a $440-a-month-difference. [Politco]Miriam Hall

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