Hochul Says ‘Hold On To Your Seats, This is a Radical Concept’; New Law Raises Value of Housing Vouchers

Photo via Linda Rosenthal.

By Carol Tannenhauser

On Friday, New York State took a step toward preventing and eliminating family homelessness in New York City.

Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law raising the value of a state housing program voucher for low-income NYC families to 100% of the fair-market rent set by HUD, as opposed to 85%, according to a statement from her office.

The bill was co-sponsored by the UWS’s State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, with State Senator Brian Kavanagh. In part as a nod to Rosenthal, but also because of Goddard Riverside’s century-long history of providing social services to the neighborhood, Hochul said, the signing took place at the Goddard Riverside Lincoln Square Community Center at 250 West 65th Street. “We are deeply grateful to Governor Hochul and Assembly Member Rosenthal for signing this legislation, and choosing Goddard Riverside as the place to do so,” said Roderick Jones, Goddard’s executive director.

The bill Hochul signed — S.6573/A.8009 — “makes housing vouchers available to eligible families under the Family Homelessness and Eviction Protection Supplement (FHEPS) program in New York City,” a statement from the Governor’s office explained. “It raises the maximum rent payable under the FHEPS program to cover the true cost of rent in New York City, one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation.”

“With the stroke of a pen, we will allow thousands more New Yorkers to leave a shelter and go into a home of their own, because for the first time they can afford it,” the governor said. “The homelessness crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken a toll on our state, disproportionately impacting Black and Latino communities. New York State is here to work with New York City to support families facing unprecedented hardship.” She broke from the script. “This is a radical concept,” she said, laughing. “Hold onto your seats. The State of New York and the City of New York will work together.”

“Isn’t it great to have a Governor who gets it?” Rosenthal asked the exuberant crowd. “Signing this bill into law signals a significant shift in the way that New York State approaches homelessness prevention.”

Steve Banks, the city’s commissioner of homeless services under Mayor de Blasio, who spoke, “alluded to the fact that for years former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resisted expanding the housing subsidy,” according to the Daily News, and that Hochul was taking a step toward solving “a long-term problem with a solution that’s been in plain sight for a long time.”

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Frank Grimes says:

      While I appreciate any effort to combat the issue of homelessness in NYC, I imagine this won’t do enough to solve things. The two issues I see that need adressing are Mental Illness and the “right to housing” laws that NYC offers to everyone.

      These vouchers will do nothing for mentally ill/ chemically addicted street homeless, who likely cannot or will not change their lifestyles without significant assistance, which the city refuses to require for them.

      The fact that that NY will offer housing to anyone (and now subsidize it more) will only encourage homeless from other states to come. In an attempt to show empathy, we are essentially taking on liabilities from other states and assuming them ourselves at the expense of our tax payers. Homeless services should be reserved for NYC residents.

      Again, any attempt the State makes to help solve the problem is encouraged, I just don’t see this as a problem that simply throwing money at will solve. Banks has never been one to get his hands dirty, and hopefully his time is up in his current role. I hope the next administration can focus on the real issues that need to be addressed.

      • nemo paradise says:

        Unfortunately, your response is well-reasoned, calm and sensible. Where is your compassion?

        Unless we make empty symbolic gestures that actually solve little but make us feel like we have “done something,”, we have lost our humanity. And if the unintended consequence of our charity turns out to be more of the same problem, well, at least we tried. The homeless may not really sleep any better, but we will.

        • Jay says:

          Telling that you call/imply this “reasoned”:

          “Homeless services should be reserved for NYC residents.”

          It’s standard “the outsiders are the problem” claim that has little basis in fact.

      • Jay says:

        You try gettin’ 2 hours of sleep over 96 hours and check your mental health.

        The point here is that stable housing (not a bed in a shelter) is part of mental health.

      • Leon says:

        Very well put.

        Efforts should be made to provide mental health services. And those who are very clearly not able to make the decision for themselves should have the decision made for them. No one is helped by having people rotting away on the streets.

        Second, the “right to housing” should not be the “right to housing” in NYC. I agree that NYC is seen as the land of milk and honey – people flock here, knowing they will get free services. Why can’t these services be offered in less costly areas for those with no clear ties to NYC? Send them upstate or to other states.

        Read the newspaper – there are lots of other parts of the country desperate for people to fill jobs. And it costs a lot less to house and feed people in these places.

      • Ian Alterman says:

        you seem to believe that all these concepts are mutually exclusive. WE can have this increase voucher, and also have increased mental health services, and perhaps a more nuanced policy on homeless “immigration” into NYC. Why not just be happy with what is being done NOW, and we’ll all work on what still needs to be done?

    2. babrarus says:

      Hope this works out as planned, but I have
      my doubts.
      Sounds almost too good to be true, and with the heavy red tape NY state & NY city are known for, it could stall and not get implemented as it should.
      Sure hope I’m wrong.

    3. Monica Sturge says:

      This only makes the landlords richer because rent is going to get even higher for low income hardworking New Yorkers. I don’t understand why you first become homeless to get assistance. Everyone who is facing eviction should get the same benefits. Sounds like the biggest shortsighted scam to me.

      • Lisa says:

        Great point, and it supports Mr. Grimes’ earlier comment. Once on this plan, where is the incentive to get off? If off, there is much incentive to get on. “Jay” I am sorry but you are naive.

    4. Denton Taylor says:

      “The fact that that NY will offer housing to anyone (and now subsidize it more) will only encourage homeless from other states to come.”

      Easy fix for that! Just eliminate rent assistance altogether! Then not only will out of state homeless not come here, maybe all the NYC homeless will leave!

      • Lisa says:

        No one is suggesting this fix except you, Mr. Taylor, in an effort to throw gasoline on the fire. Be reasonable.

        • james cassidy says:

          Where is the money coming from?

          • B.B. says:

            I’ll give you three guesses…

            Cuomo was right in not approving these increases, and for good fiscally sound reasons. NYS already devotes huge sums in support of “welfare” services, this in turn is one large reason why taxes are so high.

            Hochul is on a roll, she desperately needs woke, liberal, progressive socialist democrat NYC votes to win primary. As such she’s been focused on NYC from day one.

            This move caps a long list of other bennies Houchl has given liberal left democrats. Look for more to happen in months leading up to primary next June.