The City Council and Mayor Eric Adams continue to be at political odds.
On Thursday, the City Council voted to give the Speaker Adrienne Adams the authorization to take legal action against Mayor Adams and his administration in relation to the city’s voucher assistance program, known as CityFHEPS.
“The I’s have it,” Democrat Councilmember Amanda Farías said after the vote.
The City Council last year passed bills aimed at expanding the CityFHEPS program that helps homeless New Yorkers access apartments.
As part of the changes, the City Council expanded access to the vouchers to also include New Yorkers facing eviction.
The bills became effective last month, but the administration has yet to implement them.
“It is our responsibility to get to compliance just like you need to comply with the law, I have to comply with the law, the administration has to comply with the law as well,” Speaker Adams said ahead of the vote.
The City Council argues the bills are necessary for helping struggling New Yorkers at a time when the shelter population has ballooned amid an influx of migrants.
“I promised New Yorkers we were going to do something revolutionary. We were going to start helping New Yorkers before their lives fell apart. Nearly a year later, that promise has not been realized,” Democrat Councilman Shaun Abreu said, who himself struggled with housing as a child.
“This [City] Council cares very deeply not just about building new affordable housing but allowing people to remain in their homes,” Democrat Councilman Eric Dinowitz said on Thursday.
Democrat Councilwoman Diana Ayala, who chairs the committee that pushed the bills forward, said Thursday’s vote could have been avoided had the administration been willing to negotiate.
“We could’ve come up with some kind of guiding principle that allowed us to get to a certain place where everyone was comfortable, but that was not on the table. It’s never been on the table. There’s never been any interest in the bills and so here we are,” Ayala said.
However, Mayor Adams’ office says the changes are too costly and will increase competition for housing.
City officials said the administration has already made significant changes to the voucher program to make it more accessible.
“A big one is that we eliminated the 90-day rule, where people needed to be in shelter for 90 days before they were eligible. Another really important change is that we have standardized and for families with children have reduced work requirements,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Park said at a separate and unrelated press conference.
The move by the City Council came the same day Mayor Adams announced a new housing initiative for voucher holders.
“We are financing non-for-profits to either lease or acquire buildings that they can then turn into affordable housing for families and individuals in the DHS system,” Park said. “I’ve got more than 10,000 households in the shelter system who have a voucher who are searching for housing. So what we have is a housing supply problem in New York City.”
The new housing initiative aims to create 1,500 new units of housing of which the city intends to fast-track 1,000 units.