City Hall, March 26, 2008 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the New York City Council will vote to override a mayoral veto of anti-discrimination legislation that would prohibit discrimination against tenants based on lawful source of rent payment. This legislation will help maximize the use of available Section 8 vouchers and protect access to safe and permanent housing for low-income families. Additionally, the Council will vote on two separate bills regarding the recycling of e-waste as well as a rezoning of 9 acres along First Avenue.

Members of the City Council will vote to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of legislation to prohibit discrimination against prospective tenants based on lawful source of income. This legislation protects New Yorkers from housing discrimination and supports those with limited incomes find and maintain affordable housing by maximizing the use of Section 8 vouchers or other forms of governmental rent payment in the City. If passed, the legislation will go into effect immediately.

“With the rising cost of housing, it’s critical that we take every possible step to preserve and increase access to affordable housing, and this legislation continues the Council’s efforts to do just that,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This legislation, thanks to the hard work of the Council, ACORN and other housing groups, will not only increase access for people eligible for Section 8 vouchers to affordable housing, it will fully protect an individual’s right to housing, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

“As difficult as it is to find affordable housing in New York City, it is significantly harder to find an apartment with a Section 8 voucher,” said General Welfare Committee Chair Bill de Blasio. “This legislation will help maximize available Section 8 vouchers and help low-income families access the housing they are eligible for and desperately need.”

Today’s override vote comes after nearly a year of working with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), landlord and tenant advocacy groups to improve the administration of the Section 8 voucher programs.

Understanding that small landlords may have difficulty with the administrative burden that can come with the Section 8 program, the legislation exempts landlords who own five or fewer units. However, rent controlled tenants who reside in these small properties would come under the protection of the law. The law applies to all housing accommodations, regardless of the number of units in each, of anyone who owns at least at least one property of six or more units.

A study released by ACORN NY in April of 2007 revealed that of 122 available studios and one bedroom apartments within section 8 limits listed on Craigslist, The Daily News or The New York Times classifieds, only 16 of the owners surveyed would accept Section 8 vouchers. In January of 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced that 22,000 new Section 8 vouchers would be made available in New York City by the federal government, greatly increasing the number of low-income residents who can afford an apartment. This protective legislation will help maximize the use of available Section 8 vouchers and help low-income families access the housing for which they are eligible.

Following an agreement with the East River Realty Company (ERRC) and local elected officials, the Council will vote on a plan to rezone over 9 acres of First Avenue from East 35th Street to East 41st Street. Widely approved by the surrounding community, this rezoning will allow for responsible growth that greatly reduces the environmental, traffic and shadow impacts that proposed towers would have imposed on the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, the plan creates five acres of new public open space, a new public school, affordable housing (with incentives to create moderate- and middle-income housing), and ground-level retail to establish a vibrant mixed-use community.

“This is a truly sensible development, and one that respects open space and will add value to our neighborhood,” said Council member Garodnick, representative of the district. “The Council is amending the project to address every area of concern put forward by the local community, while clearing the way for development that will bring significant revenue to the City and create thousands of new jobs.”

“We are always pleased when a compromise can be reached between the community, the Council, the Administration and the developer,” said Land Use Committee Chair Melinda Katz. “This project, as modified with the input of the community, will be an asset to the city for years to come.”

The Council will vote on two separate pieces of legislation regarding the recycling of e-waste. The first will cover only the elements of the original e-waste legislation creating enforceable collections standards. The second bill will cover all other elements of the e-waste plan, including requiring manufacturers to finance a take-back system that is convenient for the citizens of the City of New York.

“We’re proud to have reached an agreement with the Mayor on a bill that will create and quickly implement a comprehensive electronic-waste recycling program for New York City,” said Speaker Quinn. “The Council also believes that enforceable collection standards must be a part of any e-waste program, and we will be passing additional legislation today to create those standards. Together, these two bills will create a program that will prevent electronics from entering our waste stream and polluting our air and water.”

“As the lead sponsor of this bill, I’m proud to help fight the growing problem of toxic electronic waste and I’m hopeful the rest of the country will follow suit,” said Council member de Blasio.

At the City Council’s previous Stated meeting, Speaker Quinn announced that the Council reached an agreement with the Administration on electronic waste legislation passed by the Council in February. Both the Council and the Mayor have agreed on the importance of an electronic waste program, and on the majority of elements in the original legislation. However, the Mayor has opposed the Council’s inclusion of enforceable collections standards for electronic manufacturers. To avoid delaying implementation of this essential program, the Council divided the legislation into two separate bills to allow the majority of the plan to be enacted immediately.