Legal Aid Society


LAS Lauds Passage of Bills to Expand Access to City Housing Vouchers

The Legal Aid Society is lauding the New York City Council for passing a package of bills that will reform and expand the City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) program, a local housing voucher program for families and individuals experiencing or on the brink of homelessness.

The new set of bills expands who is eligible for the program by increasing the income threshold and includes provisions that will help tenants pay utility bills for electricity, gas, heat, and hot water. Perhaps most importantly the “90 day rule” which has long forced people to enter the shelter system and remain there for three months before even being eligible for CityFHEPS has been abolished.

According to a recent report from the City, it costs local taxpayers around $8,773 per month to house a family of two in the shelter system in 2022. Alternatively, a CityFHEPS voucher for a 1-bedroom apartment to house a family of the same composition would cost a maximum of $2,387. 

The Community Service Society reports it would cost the City $3 billion dollars for the 90 days the City mandates that homeless individuals spend in shelter before even beginning the process to access rental assistance. Since households typically spend much longer than that in shelters — over 500 days, on average — the tab to the city would be a staggering $17.6 billion. Providing vouchers to tenants to prevent eviction would cost the City $237 million per year, saving taxpayers a significant amount.

“CityFHEPS, a proven voucher program, has long required reform, and this package of legislation will expend expand eligibility for thousands of New Yorkers, providing them with the means to secure safe, affordable and long-term housing, said Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “The Legal Aid Society lauds the City Council for passing these reforms and we urge Mayor Adams to enact them into law immediately.”