The elimination of the 90-day shelter rule, among other bills, will make it easier for individuals and families to enroll in the CityFHEPS program
Council also votes on bills providing transportation safety protections for students with disabilities; establishing technology access and training programs; requiring coordination of summer youth employment program opportunities; making the Open Culture Program permanent; and state home rule message in support of Sammy’s Law
City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council passed legislation to help New Yorkers avoid or move out of the city’s shelter system by reforming the City’s rental assistance voucher program, CityFHEPS. New York City is facing a homelessness crisis, with over 80,000 people in the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system – over 50,000 are longtime New Yorkers. According to the latest figures from the Mayor’s Management Report, single adults and families with children stay in shelter for over a year on average, while adult families remain for over two years. With an increased number of people seeking asylum in the United States arriving in the city, shelter space has become scarce and resulted in an expansion of emergency shelters that are far more expensive. The legislative package of four bills will not only help New Yorkers move out of shelters, but also prevent the evictions of New Yorkers most at risk of homelessness and entering our shelter system.
“Today’s CityFHEPS legislation to remove barriers to accessing housing vouchers will not only help New Yorkers move out of shelters, but also prevent the evictions of New Yorkers most at risk of homelessness,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “CityFHEPS vouchers can be powerful tools to help us, but the City’s arcane policies in administering them are counterproductive. Our legislation to remove these arbitrary obstacles will help reduce homelessness, stabilize communities, free up space for asylum seekers and others, all while saving money on costly emergency shelters that skew far more expensive than traditional shelter models while offering fewer services. This is the clear and cost-effective choice for New Yorkers and our communities.”
In addition, the Council voted on several pieces of legislation, which includes: providing transportation safety protections for students with disabilities; establishing technology access and training programs, which was originally proposed in Speaker Adams’ 2022 State of the City address; requiring coordination of summer youth employment program opportunities; making the Open Culture Program permanent; and state home rule messages, including one in support of Sammy’s Law.
Reducing Barriers to CityFHEPS Vouchers
Introduction 878-A, sponsored by Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, would remove shelter stay as a precondition to CityFHEPS eligibility. This would expand eligibility, reduce length of stay in the shelter system and prevent new shelter entrants.
“CityFHEPS vouchers have been one of our city’s best measures to address the crisis of homelessness. This package of legislation will remove the barriers that keep New Yorkers from accessing CityFHEPS and transitioning out of our shelter system,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “Through my own experiences, I intimately understand the difficulty and trauma of losing your home and living in a shelter. No New Yorker should have to experience homelessness and remain in a shelter for an arbitrarily long time in order for the City to provide assistance. It is a proud moment for me to pass these bills with my colleagues and put forward solutions to help meet the crisis we are facing.”
Introduction 893-A, sponsored by Council Member Pierina Sanchez, would remove certain Department of Social Services’ criteria that determines eligibility for CityFHEPS and gives New Yorkers the ability to demonstrate risk of eviction by presenting a rent demand letter.
Introduction 894-A, sponsored by Council Member Pierina Sanchez, would change the eligibility for a CityFHEPS voucher from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 50 percent of the area median income and remove work and source of income requirements that make it difficult for individuals to pursue employment and housing concurrently.
“We are at a critical juncture in our city’s housing and homelessness crisis, with record levels of individuals and families affected,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. “In my district, we know the heartbreaking consequences firsthand. One in ten households of Bronx community district 5 faced eviction last year. This means children forced to commute over 90 minutes from shelters in Queens to the Bronx, severing vital social bonds and support networks that are crucial for their development. The resulting stress at the household and community level permeates our community, manifesting as food insecurity, poor health outcomes, and even violence.”
“We cannot allow this to continue, which is why I am proud to sponsor two vital bills that will stabilize our communities and make our shelter systems more efficient,” continued Council Member Sanchez. “Int. 893 removes the requirement for a previous homelessness history, while Int. 894 eases work and income requirements for shelter residents. These measures will relieve program requirements that essentially require homelessness as a precondition to voucher eligibility and instead make CityFHEPs accessible as an upstream prevention tool to keep families in their homes and out of shelter.”
Introduction 229-A, sponsored by Council Member Tiffany Cabán, would prohibit the Department of Social Services from deducting a utility allowance from the maximum amount of a CityFHEPS voucher except in limited circumstances.
“A comfortable, reliable home is the essential pillar of a dignified life, and a key foundation of true public safety, not to mention public health. New Yorkers without one are, almost by definition, not safe, not healthy, and not being shown the respect they are entitled to as human beings whose lives inherently matter,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “I’m so proud to stand with my colleagues Council Member Sanchez and Deputy Speaker Ayala in putting forward this vital package of legislation to further the goal of housing as a human right.”
Requiring All Students with Disabilities to be Transported by Buses with Air-Conditioning
Introduction 566-A, sponsored by Council Member Oswald Feliz, would amend the administrative code to ensure all students with an individualized education program would be transported on buses with air-conditioning.
Establishing Technology Access and Programs to New Yorkers in Need
Introduction 664-A, sponsored by Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to create a process for the City to donate extra computers and related tech equipment to educational and non-profit organizations who teach, train or help New Yorkers. Eligible organizations would include schools, libraries, public or private educational institutions, and organizations serving people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income New Yorkers.
Introduction 665-A, sponsored by Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to create a process for the City to donate extra computers and related tech equipment to educational and non-profit organizations who teach, train or help New Yorkers. Eligible organizations would include schools, libraries, public or private educational institutions, and organizations serving people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income New Yorkers.
“I’m honored to have worked with Speaker Adams on the two technology bills that are passing today that were included in the Speaker’s first State of the City address,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. “Access to technology played a pivotal role during the pandemic, whether it was ensuring people could receive vital social services, or enabling families to stay connected. It is not enough to simply hook someone up to the internet and consider our work done – true access means providing people with the necessary devices and empowering them with digital literacy to safely harness the full potential of the internet.”
Requiring Coordination of Summer Youth Employment Program Opportunities
Introduction 686-A, sponsored by Council Member Althea Stevens, would help diversify employment options for Summer Youth Employment Program participants by increasing collaboration with government agencies, community-based organizations and local private businesses.
“This collective effort maximizes the available resources and enables a wider range of job opportunities for SYEP participants, ensuring that the program meets the diverse needs and interests of young people while fostering workforce development city-wide,” said Council Member Althea Stevens. “Additionally, this will support our Community Based Organizations by providing more placements around the city and serve as a critical pipeline to tackle the hiring issues faced by our city agencies.”
Making the Open Culture Program Permanent
Introduction 590-A, co-sponsored by Council Members Carlina Rivera and Chi Ossé, would require the City to make the temporary Open Culture Program, which allows eligible arts and culture institutions to use public outdoor spaces for events, permanent.
“I’m so grateful to have grown up on the Lower East Side, in diverse communities that through our history have come together to demand social change- much of which was aided by the creative spirit. Arts and culture are what we’re known for, and I am proud to have passed meaningful legislation in coalition with neighbors, advocates, and artists to expand equity in and access to the arts. This bill will revive and make permanent the Open Culture program that was critical to the survival of so many organizations across the city through the height of the pandemic. It allowed neighbors, families, and friends to come together in a safe way, and made our communities more enjoyable and livelier,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.
“The arts and entertainment sectors were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and are arguably our city’s greatest economic driver,” continued Council Member Rivera. “People come to New York for the arts – they come to our neighborhoods, our restaurants, our small businesses – for the arts. Open Streets and Open Culture enable some of our beloved arts venues and organizations to welcome New Yorkers and visitors to seek solace and enjoyment in performances that makes this city and our neighborhoods so much more wonderful.”
Recognizing May as Lupus Awareness Month
Resolution 550, sponsored by Council Member Shahana Hanif, would call for the recognition of May as Lupus Awareness Month in New York City.
“As a Lupus warrior of 15 years, I know how critical it is that our City raise awareness for this incurable disease. Without awareness, debilitating and painful symptoms leave too many of our neighbors, especially women of color, to suffer in silence,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “I’m deeply grateful for the partnership with Bronx Borough President, Vanessa L. Gibson, to pass this important resolution. Today, our City takes a real meaningful step in ensuring anyone with Lupus feels seen and heard.”
Approving Home Rule Messages
The Council voted on several home rule resolutions including one in support of the state legislature passing Sammy’s Law, a bill authorizing New York City to establish its own speed limits.
“The epidemic of traffic violence in New York State has caused immense suffering and loss, both emotionally and financially,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. “The economic cost alone is estimated to be at least $15 billion annually, which includes hospitalization, emergency response, lost wages, legal expenses, and lost economic activity. This crisis affects every New Yorker, from high-poverty neighborhoods to affluent ones, from children to senior citizens, and from cyclists to pedestrians. I’m honored to have been able to work closely with advocates, our state leaders, Speaker Adams, Chair Brooks-Powers and Chair Abreu to ensure that New York City has the power and agency to make decisions for the streets that we fund, maintain, and support.”
“I am glad to see the Council pass a home rule message in support of Sammy’s Law today, which will give the City more authority over the speed limits on our own streets,” said Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “A record number of children were killed in traffic last year, many in long-neglected outer boroughs and communities of color. Lower speeds – paired with traffic calming measures and infrastructure improvements – can help keep our streets safe. I note that reductions to speed limits alone are not enough to keep all our roads safe, and if the State passes Sammy’s Law, I look forward to leading a robust discussion in the Council’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – one that prioritizes infrastructure investments and engaging community members – as we elevate where speeds can and should be lowered.”
141-05 109th Avenue Rezoning – Mal Pal Realty Corp. (Michael Paladino) seeks a Zoning Map amendment to change an existing R3A zoning district to an R6B/C2-3 zoning district, and a Zoning Text Amendment to designate the rezoned area as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area (MIH), in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. These actions will facilitate a new 4-story mixed-use building with approximately 56 housing units, 14 permanently affordable. The Council is modifying the application to strike MIH Option 2 and add the Deep Affordability Option, resulting in MIH Option 1 and Deep Affordability Option as the applicable MIH Options, in Speaker Adrienne Adams’ district.
26-50 Brooklyn Queens Expressway West Rezoning – 2650 BQE LOR LLC, seeks a zoning map amendment from M1-1 to M1-2, in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens. These actions will facilitate a 3-story building and approximately 111 accessory off-street parking spaces. This will result in the expansion of BQE fitness to increase its square footage, in Council Member Tiffany Cabán’s district.
61-10 Queens Boulevard Rezoning – PF Supreme, LLC, (d/b/a Planet Fitness) requests a Zoning Map Amendment to change an existing R7-1/C1-2 and R6/C1-2 district to an R7-1/C2-4 and R6/C2-4 district, in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens. These actions will facilitate 16,000 sf health and fitness establishment in the existing building. The proposed rezoning will not result in new development or alteration of the existing building, in Council Member Julie Won’s district.
Paperific Rezoning – Paperific Supermarket seeks a zoning map amendment from M1-2, M2-1, and R6 to C4-4A and R6B, a zoning text amendment to apply Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) in the project area, and a zoning special permit in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. These actions would facilitate the development of a 5-story commercial building with 103,512 square feet of commercial space, 63 parking spaces in cellar and 35 bicycle parking spaces.The Council is modifying the application to strike MIH Option 2 and add the Deep Affordability Option, resulting in MIH Option 1 and Deep Affordability Option as the applicable MIH Options, in Council Member Shahana Hanif’s district.
784 Courtlandt Avenue Project Revision – NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is requesting an amendment to Resolution No. 1014 approved by the Council on July 23rd, 2019, related to the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Plan, the Urban Development Action Area Project (UDAAP) Designation, and an associated Disposition of City-owned land. The previously approved resolution was to facilitate the development of a 7-story building totaling 25,831 sf and including 20 affordable housing units, and 6,265 sf of community facility space. These actions would facilitate slight changes to the building program resulting in a 7-story mixed-use building, with approximately 23 affordable housing units and 2,025 community facility space, in Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s district.
- Revenue Budget Modification: Recognizes $2.25 billion of new revenues in Fiscal 2023 and $400 million reduction in prior year payable liabilities. The total of $2.65 billion in new resources are appropriated into the following: $2.29 billion into the labor reserve to help cover the recently established labor settlement pattern, and $362 million into the Budget Stabilization Account to prepay Fiscal 2024 expenses.
The Council approved the following appointments to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC):
- Kenneth Y.K. Chan
- Paul Bader
- Thomas Sorrentino
- Sarah Kaufman