NYC Council joins lawsuit against Mayor Adams over rental assistance laws

The New York City Council is now joining a class action lawsuit against Mayor Eric Adams and his administration for refusing to enact laws that would expand the city’s rental assistance program.

Last summer, the council passed laws that would expand the number of people who would be eligible for these housing vouchers by making them accessible for people in a wider income bracket and would eliminate the need for someone to be in a homeless shelter for at least 90 days.

The Mayor vetoed these bills, but the council overrode the veto.

The laws were scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 9 – but Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala said nothing has been done.

"The administration did absolutely nothing, which means that they didn't put in any additional funding," Ayala said. "The city council has jurisdiction over the creation of these laws and the city has to implement them. Right now, they're derelict in their responsibilities and their refusal is really frustrating."

The Mayor’s office argues that this law would be too expensive and cost the city more than $17 billion over the next five years – however, this price tag is something the council disagrees with.

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The mayor’s administration also says that these reforms go beyond the council’s legal authority.

"It’s our belief as a legal matter that that law goes beyond the City Council’s authority and that it’s actually preempted by existing state law," Adams’ Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg said. "So, there are significant legal issues and they will play out in court."

The lawsuit was first filed last week by the Legal Aid society on behalf of four New Yorkers at risk of homelessness who would be eligible for the voucher program – CityFHEPS – if the laws were to take effect.

They praised the council for joining with them in this legal fight.

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"Living in a shelter is a significant hardship and I think that any stay in shelter should be as short as possible," Robert Desir, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society said.

Right now, around 36,000 households use this housing voucher program called CityFHEPS.

Migrants are not eligible for this housing voucher program.