City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council filed a motion with the Supreme Court of the State of New York to intervene in the class action lawsuit by several low-income New Yorkers against Mayor Adams for his administration’s failure to implement enacted laws to reform the City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) program. The Council is seeking to become an intervening petitioner in the Vincent, Tejeda, Cronneit, and Acks v. Adams and the City of New York lawsuit to represent the city legislature’s interests in the proceedings on local laws it enacted in July 2023 that went into effect on January 9, 2024, but have not been implemented. If its motion is granted, the Council would become a party to the existing lawsuit as a petitioner. The Council filing argues the importance of the separation of powers within government, and the distinct City Charter-mandated responsibilities of the legislative body to pass laws and for the mayor to implement them.

The Council’s legal filings can be found here:

Motion to Intervene


Memorandum of Law

Excerpts from Memorandum of Law:

“Because the Council validly enacted the CityFHEPS Reform Laws, the Mayor is now legally required by the Charter to implement them. But he refuses to do so. His refusal not only deprives New Yorkers of housing benefits to which they are entitled under the law; it usurps the powers of the Council, a co-equal branch of City government, and it upends the separation of powers enshrined in the City Charter. What he could not secure through the Charter-established process, the Mayor is now attempting to achieve by unlawfully abdicating his duties.”

“The Council’s powers are derived, ultimately, from the State Constitution, which mandates that ‘[e]very local government . . . shall have a legislative body elective by the people thereof.’ The State Constitution also empowers ‘every local government’ to ‘adopt and amend local laws’ relating to…‘the government, protection, order, conduct, safety, health and well-being of persons . . . therein.”

The Council’s action supports the existing request for court relief under Article 78 that would compel implementation of the local laws and makes an additional request for the Court to issue a declaratory judgment that the laws do not conflict with existing law or authority. The Council’s legal action would seek a judicial order to provide clarity on insinuations inconsistently made by Mayor Adams’ administration that question the Council’s legal authority to pass these laws regarding CityFHEPS. In its filing, the Council argues this assertion has no basis in law and contradicts years of previous CityFHEPS laws being enacted and implemented, including during the current administration, without such insinuations being raised.

Excerpt from Memorandum of Law:

“The Mayor, in his veto letter and through his DSS Commissioner, has suggested that the Reform Laws are legally invalid. In broad strokes, the Mayor contends that the Reform Laws are preempted by the New York State Social Services Law and should have been passed through referendum. By raising the issue of a mandatory referendum, the Mayor appears to be suggesting that the Council violated the doctrine of “curtailment,” which prohibits a local law from transferring or curtailing a Charter-imposed power without a referendum.

“These arguments lack merit. For the reasons stated below, the laws are valid; they are not preempted by state law and they do not curtail budgetary authority such that they must have been passed by a referendum. More fundamentally, if the Mayor believed that the Reform Laws were unlawful, he should have taken his concerns up with the courts himself. He had ample time—six months from the laws’ enactment—to do so. Instead, he unilaterally decided the Reform Laws were invalid and that he would not implement them, and in doing so, usurped the role of the judiciary. This cannot be the way that disputes between the political branches are addressed.”

Excerpt from Petition:

“Wherefore, Petitioner (Council) demands judgment as follows:

  1. Directing and compelling Respondent and his agencies, officers, and employees immediately to implement the CityFHEPS Reform Laws.
  2. Declaring that the CityFHEPS Reform Laws are not preempted and do not curtail any budgetary powers.
  3. Granting other such, further, or different relief as the Court deems just and proper, including reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees.”

The new laws that remove barriers to CityFHEPS were originally passed on May 25, 2023, amidst rising homelessness and increased evictions in the aftermath of the state’s eviction moratorium expiring. They reform the program to ensure housing vouchers are utilized to better prevent homelessness amidst a rising number of evictions and a record-high shelter population. They remove the requirement for people to have resided in a DHS shelter to be eligible, which blocks many low-income New Yorkers from help, including young people residing in Department of Youth and Community Development shelters. The laws also update the value of vouchers to account for utilities so that applicants do not lose apartments, remove work requirements while updating income levels to remove disincentives for recipients to pursue greater employment opportunities and housing simultaneously, and further reform eligibility criteria to help more New Yorkers facing eviction.


There have been more than 18,000 eviction cases filed since the beginning of Mayor Adams’s administration in 2022. The lack of housing supply, demonstrated by New York City’s Housing and Vacancy Survey showing that the percentage of housing units available dropped to 1.4 percent, is a crisis that the Council is working with the administration to confront by collaboratively advancing increased housing production. The even lower vacancy rate for the most affordable apartments only underscores the need to help low-income New Yorkers with apartments to remain in their homes through comprehensive solutions. By keeping low-income New Yorkers in their homes with vouchers, the City can prevent more New Yorkers from joining the pool of those in need of housing assistance in searching and competing for a limited supply of housing.

The mayor vetoed the bills in June 2023, primarily based on policy differences, and the Council followed the City Charter’s process to override his vetoes and duly enact the legislation into law in July 2023.

Earlier this year, Speaker Adrienne Adams sent a letter to Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Wasow Park warning that the Council would take legal action if the agency does not “take concrete, verifiable steps to implement these local laws by February 7, 2024.”

The local laws are the following:

Local Law 99 prohibits the Department of Social Services from deducting a utility allowance from the maximum amount of a CityFHEPS voucher, except in limited circumstances.

Local Law 100 removes shelter stay as a precondition to CityFHEPS eligibility. This eliminates previous eligibility barriers, reduces lengths of stay in the shelter system and prevents new shelter entrants.

Local Law 101 removes certain eligibility restrictions for CityFHEPS to allow applicants at risk of eviction or experiencing homelessness access to vouchers.

Local Law 102 changes the eligibility for a CityFHEPS voucher from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 50 percent of the area median income and removes work and source of income requirements that make it difficult for individuals to pursue employment and housing concurrently.