City Council Overrides Mayor’s Veto to Expand Rental Vouchers
The City Council recently voted 42-8 to override Mayor Adams’s recent veto of four bills intended to expand eligibility for city-issued rental vouchers. The bills, which initially passed in May, will eliminate several existing qualifications to access City Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement, or CityFHEPS, vouchers.
Under the program, established in 2018, most voucher holders pay part of their income in rent, while the city covers the balance. Income eligibility will jump from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 50 percent of the area median income under the legislation, or $63,550 for a family of three. The legislation removes shelter stay as a precondition to CityFHEPS eligibility and expands the number of people eligible for vouchers to include those who receive written demands from their landlords for rent owed. The other measure sought to help low-income tenants pay utilities.
In vetoing the Council’s package on June 23, Mayor Adams said it goes too far and that “the option to provide vouchers to every person who would be eligible under the Council’s bills is far beyond what the city can provide.” He argued the bills would “make it harder for those actually experiencing homelessness to find a permanent home.”
The Council has consistently disputed the mayor’s cost estimate. The Adams Administration has estimated a $17.2 billion over five years, factoring in shelter savings and based on an assumed 47,000 new voucher holders each year. The City Council’s estimate is at $10.6 billion. Although he vetoed the legislative package, Mayor Adams instead opted to meet one Council priority with an executive order eliminating a rule that required people to stay in shelters for 90 days before they could get vouchers.
Mayor Adams’s veto of the voucher bills is the second that the mayor has issued during his time in office. Mr. Adams’s predecessor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, did not veto any bills during his eight-year tenure. And the recent City Council actions mark the first veto override since Michael Bloomberg was mayor, when bills were vetoed, and subsequently overridden, with some frequency.
NYC Lawful Source of Income Protections Include CityFHEPS
The NYC Human Rights Law, enforced by the NYC Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), prohibits discrimination in private and public housing, land, and commercial spaces in New York City, and bars any person selling, renting, or leasing (including landlords, superintendents, building managers, and brokers) from discriminating because of a person’s actual or perceived protected status under the law. The CCHR and HPD are charged with protecting and providing fair housing in New York City.
“Lawful source of income” is a protected category under the NYC Human Rights Law and includes any federal, state, or local public or housing assistance towards the payment of rent, such as:
- Section 8;
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
- HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA);
- Veterans’ GI Bill; and
- Security deposits and one-time emergency grants intended to assist tenants and applicants for housing who need assistance paying rent, security deposits, move-in fees or broker fees.