NYC expands CityFHEPS housing subsidy program, but what about affordable housing?
In response to an overrun shelter system and affordable housing shortage, the city recently announced it is expanding the CityFHEPS housing subsidy program statewide.
“The federal government used to be the source of rental subsidies and still operates the Section 8 program. It’s a really important program, but Congress hasn’t appropriated funds for new Section 8 vouchers in many years,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Wasow Park told News 12 New York. “The city has stepped up, funded that gap with a city-funded subsidy that works very much like Section 8.”
CityFHEPS has been available in the five boroughs for the past five years. Voucher holders pay 30% of their income in rent, and the city picks up the rest up to a set ceiling. To compare, Section 8 allows you to move anywhere within the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Park says moving out of New York City is 100% voluntary.
“If most of us decide that we are better served by living someplace other than the five boroughs, it’s closer to a job, it’s near the school that is right for my child, it’s a safety mechanism, if I’m a survivor of domestic violence and I’m looking for that fresh start away from where my abuser was, that’s a choice that most of us get to make without having to think about it,” she said. “We want to offer that same choice and that same flexibility to our clients.”
Legal Aid attorney Stephanie Rudolph agrees with the expansion but acknowledges that resources need to be put into creating more affordable housing within the five boroughs.
“The city absolutely needs to invest in more affordable housing,” Rudolph told News 12 New York. “Some of those new lottery apartments where clients win the lottery and get to move into an affordable rent stabilized apartment are real lifelines for them, but there’s simply not enough of them.”
The Department of Social Services says it is committed to working with other city agencies to create and preserve affordable housing. It says affordable housing options have increased over the past fiscal year. Still, Rudolph says New Yorkers who head upstate may face a new set of challenges. “A lot of the surrounding counties aren’t very welcoming to people with vouchers,” they said. “Since 2019, the state Human Rights law requires landlords to accept housing vouchers, there’s very little enforcement on a state level. The state attorney general’s office, the state Division on Human Rights needs to be enforcing the law so that people who have CITYPHEPS vouchers and are taking them upstate can use them and that are taking them upstate are actually able to use them.”
The expansion of the CityFHEPS program is expected to take place on Friday. If you need more information on CityFHEPS or to find out if you qualify, you can head to NYC.gov.