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New York City Raises Value of Rental Assistance Programs to Help More New Yorkers Secure Permanent Housing

July 30, 2021

NEW YORK—The de Blasio administration today announced that the City is raising the value of City rental assistance programs (CityFHEPS) to federal Section 8 Fair Market Rent levels, more than a 90 percent increase for a family of four, the largest increase since this Admin recreated City rental assistance programs from scratch, which had been completely cancelled by the City and State in 2011.

The rule implements legislation sponsored by Council Member Steven Levin. Current values are aligned with the State FHEPS rental assistance program; Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Brian Kavanagh successfully sponsored legislation to similarly increase state vouchers, but the bill has not yet been signed by the Governor. 

“New York City’s recovery depends on giving every family the tools they need to thrive in their communities. Increasing rental vouchers will help thousands of New Yorkers find stable housing or avoid the shelter system altogether. It’s a transformative change,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City is the most compassionate city in America, and these vouchers are an essential step forward for our most vulnerable families.”

Since 2014, more than 170,000 New Yorkers have secured housing through the de Blasio administration’s rental assistance and rehousing programs, including CityFHEPS. More than 140,000 of those individuals moved out of shelter and into permanent housing; the remainder were able to avoid entering shelter altogether by keeping their homes. Raising the value of CityFHEPS rental assistance will help even more New Yorkers who may be facing eviction or experiencing homelessness remain in or obtain permanent homes.

With the publication of this rule, the new CityFHEPS rent levels are expected to take effect for September rentals. 

“Supporting all families in NYC to achieve stability and growth is paramount to our long-lasting recovery and growth,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog. “We’re grateful to the advocates of the changes to our assistance programs that will help more New Yorkers secure permanent housing and access additional tools necessary for success.”’

“As we have said in our budget testimony, we believe that raising the value of all government rental assistance programs to federal FMR Section 8 levels is the right thing to do, going further to prevent and address homelessness and building on our progress helping more than 170,000 New Yorkers in need secure housing,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “With this reform, we are taking important action well ahead of schedule, moving to raise rental assistance values to FMR Section 8 levels, and thereby continue to alleviate homelessness and reduce the number of people in DHS shelters.”

“This Administration’s latest action to raise the value of City rental assistance programs will build on our comprehensive efforts to do everything we can to support New Yorkers experiencing homelessness,” said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. “And as we continue to use every tool at our disposal to level the playing field for vulnerable New Yorkers while building on the important progress we’ve made helping more than 140,000 New Yorkers move out of shelter into permanent housing, we must also take every opportunity to acknowledge and thank our dedicated frontline staff and provider-partners who went above and beyond during this past year of crisis to make this positive change possible. Thank you for your extraordinary efforts around the clock in service of this vital mission and in support of our clients as they get back on their feet.”

“Since day one, this Administration has been committed to expanding City programs and services that connect New Yorkers in need to permanent housing opportunities, with more than 170,000 individuals utilizing these resources to move out of shelter or stay in their own homes,” said HRA Administrator Gary Jenkins. “Today’s announcement builds on that progress and will provide thousands of New Yorkers with housing stability. We thank our partners at the City Council for their advocacy and support in our ongoing efforts to ensure that New York remains a city where anyone can call home - regardless of their economic or housing status.”

The NYC DHS census is now at fewer than 45,000 people, below the 50,689 figure at the beginning of the de Blasio administration. The census began trending downward prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to shelter moveout initiatives, the City’s efforts to create permanent housing by converting former cluster shelter locations into affordable apartments, and pre-pandemic efforts to reduce evictions. Evictions decreased by more than 40 percent through the city’s first-in-the-nation right-to-counsel initiative, which provides free legal services to tenants in housing court. The COVID-19 eviction moratorium prevented more families from entering shelter but sustained rehousing efforts – let by tireless efforts from the City’s essential workers – have actually driven down the number of shelter residents.

More than 140,000 New Yorkers have used City resources to move out of shelter. More than 80,000 of those have used rental assistance programs developed by the City alone – which did not exist before this administration – and approximately 13,000 used federal rental assistance like Section 8. Nearly 19,000 New Yorkers moved out of shelter in 2020 alone, with more than 11,000 using City rental assistance programs.

"Increasing CityFHEPS vouchers to federal FMR Section 8 levels will ensure that more New Yorkers can secure permanent housing, whether they are currently experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity", said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, Chair of the Senate Social Services Committee. "I was glad to work with Senator Brian Kavanagh on his legislation to also increase StateFHEPS levels to federal FMR.  Without these necessary increases, it will be impossible to reverse our homelessness crisis if vouchers barely cover rent due."

“By raising the value of City rental assistance programs to federal Section 8 Fair Market Rent levels, this   reform will ensure that more families who are facing eviction or experiencing homelessness will be able to find stable, permanent housing,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. “I am hopeful that Gov. Cuomo will sign legislation that passed the Assembly and Senate in June that would increase the State Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (FHEPS) voucher amount and bring even greater stability to housing insecure New Yorkers.”

"Increasing the CityFHEPS Voucher amount to reflect the real cost of living in New York will help alleviate our homelessness crisis. Now, it's vital that my bill to increase the State FHEPs voucher amount is signed into law. Taken together, these two efforts will go a long way to ensure that more unsheltered families get into safe, stable, permanent housing," said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), Chair of the Committee on Social Services.

“Everyone in this city deserves to live in a permanent, affordable home. This City Council passed the legislation in May, which finally raises the value of city housing vouchers, a big step toward helping to end New York’s chronic homeless crisis. I’m proud of Council Member Levin, all my colleagues in the Council, WIN, all the advocates and people experiencing homelessness for pushing to make this increase happen. And it’s more important than ever: The eviction moratorium will expire this summer, leaving many families and individuals without homes. With rents coming down and the value of vouchers going up, I’m hopeful that they will quickly find replacements instead of overwhelming our shelter system,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“I thank the de Blasio Administration for taking decisive action today to move expeditiously to implement the CityFHEPS increase. This increase will make an enormous difference for voucher holders by opening up tens of thousands of potential apartments. This is a real pathway to permanent housing,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of General Welfare Committee.

“Increasing the value of the CityFHEPS voucher is a critical step in the right direction,” said Milton Perez, leader of VOCAL-NY and current shelter resident. “Homeless New Yorkers led the charge to win these changes and have created a real opportunity to house thousands of people in their community. Especially given the continued dangers of COVID-19, it is imperative that the City works diligently to use this improved tool to house as many people as possible over the coming weeks and months."

“Moving to implement this rule to align City FHEPS rental assistance levels with market rents immediately is a critical next step in our efforts to prevent and end homelessness.  With the end of the eviction moratorium looming and thousands of households still residing in shelters, access to meaningful rental assistance will enable thousands of New Yorkers to access permanent housing. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks for acting with the urgency that this moment requires and to our partners in the City Council and State Legislature, particularly Council Member Levin, Assembly Member Rosenthal and Senator Kavanagh for championing legislation to deliver this victory for homeless New Yorkers,” said Catherine Trapani, Executive Director, Homeless Services United.

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