Legal Aid Society


LAS Sues City for Illegally Terminating Low-Income New Yorkers’ Rental Vouchers

The Legal Aid Society ​and ​Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP filed a class action ​lawsuit today on behalf of eight individuals representing all low-income households in New York City who receive rental subsidies under the Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (FHEPS) or the City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) programs, as reported by The New York Times.

The lawsuit, filed against the New York City Department of Social Services (DSS), seeks to stop the agency from unlawfully terminating current recipients’ housing vouchers.

FHEPS is a critical rent supplement for families who are experiencing homelessness or are facing eviction, including those who have lost their housing or ability to pay for housing due to domestic violence, or because of health or safety issues. The subsidies were developed to prevent at-risk families, and particularly minor children, from entering the shelter system and to enable them to more rapidly exit shelters. CityFHEPS is targeted at other households in or at risk of entering City shelters.

DSS, which administers the City-funded CityFHEPS rent supplement program, routinely fails to renew households’ subsidies in a timely manner, causing the rental payments to be terminated without notice. DSS is currently months behind in processing CityFHEPS renewals. In addition, DSS routinely terminates households’ FHEPS rent supplements when they recertify their public assistance cases. Families receive no notice that their rent is no longer being paid, and learn of the problem only when they receive eviction papers from their landlords.

“DSS is required by law to provide uninterrupted FHEPS and CityFHEPS assistance to families who qualify, yet they are failing to do so,” said Lilia I. Toson, a Supervising Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “These programs are critical for thousands of low-income families in New York City, but instead DSS is exposing these very families to the risk of eviction and homelessness.”