The City Council voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass a bill that would raise the value of rental vouchers available to homeless New Yorkers.
The decision puts Mayor Bill de Blasio in the hot seat to approve a proposal that has garnered the support of landlords and tenants alike.
The bill, sponsored by Council member Stephen Levin, would bring the subsidies afforded by the city’s Family Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Supplement (or FHEPS) voucher up to federal Section 8 standards. Values would increase to $1,945 for a one-bedroom or $2,217 for a two-bedroom.
CityFHEPS affords single adults a subsidy of just $1,265 a month; families of four can receive up to $1,580 per month. The raise to match Section 8 would take effect 180 days after the bill becomes law.
“My office has tried to help countless constituents who qualify for vouchers find acceptable housing. But there were too many applicants and too few available units,” said Levin. “This bill will be transformative for thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and will allow many families to finally find permanent, stable housing.”
The mayor has historically opposed the change. De Blasio wants the state to raise the value of its own version of FHEPS to take the financial burden off the city, but Albany has declined to do so.
“We urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign this bill immediately,” said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program. “Vouchers have proven to be the best way to provide renters with assistance when they need it, but they are useless if the value of the voucher barely covers the operating cost for an apartment.”