De Blasio bumps up city vouchers as state increase stalls
City now offers Section 8-level subsidies; state bill still unsigned
Mayor Bill de Blasio bumped up the value of city housing vouchers to federal levels Friday, then highlighted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to do the same for the state’s program.
“Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Brian Kavanagh successfully sponsored legislation to similarly increase state vouchers, but the bill has not yet been signed by the governor,” a press release from the mayor’s office said.
The release did not mention that the bill has yet to be delivered to Cuomo’s desk, according to the Senate website.
The mayor’s announcement, which comes two months after the City Council passed the bill, hikes rental subsidies for homeless New Yorkers or CityFHEPS vouchers to the value of Section 8 vouchers, an increase of over 90 percent.
De Blasio had initially withheld support for the bill, claiming it would put undue stress on city finances if New York City made its vouchers worth far more than the state’s. FHEPS stands for family homelessness and eviction protection supplement.
The state Assembly and Senate passed legislation in the second week of June to increase state rental vouchers to federal levels.
The delay in getting the bill signed comes as tenants brace for an eviction crisis. State rental aid has yet to be distributed and millions of New Yorkers who owe back rent could be at risk of getting booted when the state eviction moratorium lifts Aug. 31.
State FHEPS vouchers at current levels are “woefully insufficient to prevent eviction and homelessness,” Legal Aid Society attorney Judith Goldiner said. Raising them would supplement the city’s program, she noted.
“Once it is signed into law, my landmark bill with state Sen. Brian Kavanagh will increase the State FHEPs voucher amount to cover the true cost of rent in New York City,” said Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, a sponsor of the state bill. Both lawmakers are Manhattan Democrats.