Mayor Eric Adams has removed a rule mandating a 90-day waiting period for homeless shelter residents to seek Family Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Supplement (FHEPS) or city-funded rental assistance vouchers in NYC.
The Department of Social Services Commissioner, Molly Park, expressed optimism about the change, stating that it would facilitate the transition of more New Yorkers from shelters to permanent housing in a shorter timeframe while alleviating the strain on the DHS shelter system.
“We’ll be able to move more New Yorkers from shelter to permanent housing more quickly while freeing up much-needed capacity in the DHS shelter system,” said The Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Park.
Mayor Adams had previously voiced support for the city council’s efforts to eliminate the 90-day rule, which was passed last month alongside other legislation.
“When you look at the entire package they presented, some of the items in that package are problematic,” said Adams.
He, however, has now decided to implement the new rule independently, citing concerns with certain aspects of the broader bill package presented by the council.
In response to the mayor’s decision, the city council issued a statement on Friday, emphasizing the importance of signing the entire legislative package to effectively address the city’s eviction and homelessness crises.
“The only reliable path forward to truly confront the city’s eviction and homelessness crises is for the mayor to sign the entire package of legislation,” the council said.
Both the mayor and the city council agree on the elimination of the 90-day rule, particularly given the overcrowded shelter system and the arrival of asylum seekers.
Nevertheless, this change has created a bottleneck further along the housing chain, as thousands of new applicants join the 20,000 existing voucher holders who struggle to find available apartments.
Both sides are calling for the development of more permanent housing options to alleviate this burden.
Ivory Johnson, a resident living in an East Harlem family shelter with her young son Kenneth, shared her perspective, explaining that the realities of the New York City housing market make it challenging to find apartments that accept city FHEPS vouchers.
“City FHEPS, what it is, it’s so hard to look for an apartment. Certain places don’t accept city FHEPS,” Johnson said.
Johnson has refrained from seeking an FHEPS voucher due to these difficulties.