June 13, 2021

NYC and Homelessness: Lawmakers Take Dramatic Step to Stem Rise

Landlord groups applauded the move. “One voucher shouldn’t be worth more than another voucher,” said Basha Gerhards, a senior vice president of planning for the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents the city’s biggest landlords.

Mr. de Blasio has refused to support the voucher increase because the state has refused to increase its own vouchers, which are capped at several hundred dollars below fair-market rent.

If the city voucher becomes more valuable than the state voucher, Mr. de Blasio says, landlords will prioritize city voucher holders and effectively accelerate a long trend under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of the state pushing safety-net costs onto the city.

“We’re willing to go to a higher level, but we’ve got to do it in coordination with the state or else we are just robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Mr. de Blasio said earlier this month.

His social services commissioner, Steven Banks, put the dilemma more tartly at a May 10 City Council budget hearing, telling Mr. Levin, “Bargaining with Albany is not very successful if you say, ‘Albany, please do this, but if you don’t, we’ll do it ourselves.’”

A spokesman for the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees the state voucher program, suggested that if the state raised its voucher level, landlords would increase rents to take advantage.

“Rent supplements are most effective when provided in a targeted manner, and on an as-needed basis,” the spokesman, Anthony Farmer, said, adding that the state’s approach avoided “the unintended consequence of artificially raising rents.”

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