The New York City Council passed a bill last Thursday that will significantly increase the ability for homeless New Yorkers to find housing through the City’s rental voucher program, CityFHEPS.

For years CityFHEPS has been seen as a false hope for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, with only about 5% of voucher holders finding housing through the program each month.

The passage of Intro 146, sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin, will increase the voucher rates to align with Section 8, the most successful rental assistance program in the country. Where voucher holders were previously capped at $1,265 for a single adult and $1,580 for a family of three or four, voucher rates will rise to $1,945 for an individual and $2,217 for families.

“This bill will be transformative for thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and will allow many families to finally find permanent, stable housing,” Levin said.

The bill also serves as a victory for many homeless advocates who have long been fighting for a more equitable voucher program.

“After years of fighting to end ‘tickets to humiliation’ and create a housing voucher program that pays market rents, Intro 146 was passed into law today,” Joseph Loonam, Housing Campaign coordinator at the Brooklyn-based advocacy organization Vocal-NY said. “This victory is a testament to the power of homeless New Yorkers who fought for this bill.”

The increase to CityFHEPS vouchers has the potential to make a significant impact. Near the end of 2020, there were only 564 apartments listed at low enough rents for voucher holders to qualify for, according to data from Streeteasy. Now, with rates reflecting those of Section 8, it is estimated that over 70,000 more apartments will become accessible.

This growth in potential housing opportunities for homeless New Yorkers comes at a pivotal time. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the city’s growing homelessness issue, resulting in a record 20,822 single adults spending the night at city shelters in February 2021. In addition, thousands of New Yorkers are at risk of losing their homes when the eviction moratorium is lifted on August 31.

A record amount of single adults stayed in city shelters in February. Figure: Coalition for the Homeless.

Still, many advocates say the passage of Intro 146 was weakened with last minute tweaks that could have a negative impact on homeless New Yorkers. According to the Fulton Street based advocacy group Neighbors Together, a clause was taken out that allowed recipients to keep their voucher until they are financially self-sufficient. Anybody making over 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) would no longer be able to keep their voucher.

“They will be forced to choose between living wage jobs and their housing,” Neighbors Together said in a statement. “Earning 250% FPL is not even close to enough income to continue to pay market rate rent in New York City.”

For organizations like Neighbors Together and Vocal-NY, these last minute changes signify more work to be done.

“Homeless New Yorkers know how seemingly minor policy shifts can have major impacts on people’s lives, and these changes will undoubtedly force many people back to shelters or the streets,” Loonam said.

“It’s clear that the fight is not over.”

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Jackson Ferrari Ibelle

Jackson Ferrari Ibelle is a Providence, RI native who has lived in Crown Heights since 2019. He is a Northeastern University graduate and splits his time between writing for BK Reader and working as a...

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  1. Please help my son and myself to get and apartment i cant afford more then 1000 dollars my son is not working due to his accident he cant walk im 76 he is 55 i worked all my life never thought at my age this would happen if your out there please find it in your heart to help us or tell me where to go for help.thank u josephine intorcia phone #is 347 307 2051

  2. This is an extremely emergency. I live in a basement and im sick. People above are suffering from insanity and run up and down 24/7 and push and pull chairs and tables to sit children she does not have. Help! Would anyone have an apartment i can rent?

    1. I’m sorry to hear this Gladys. I would suggest you call 311 and find out what local and organizational resources are available to you to help you transition from that situation.

  3. Will this change for people that already have cityfheps.. I am a single mom with 3 kids victim of domestic violence and living in a 1 bdrm.. I’m grateful to be safe but my kids need space as well but it’s all my voucher approved us for.

    1. i have a 2 bedroom in east NY BK – what is your Voucher amount for? I’m trying to get cityfheps tenants but they never answer the phone.

      1. I’m a Cityfheps voucher holder also. Me and My husband along with our 2yrs.old, I’ve been looking for truly so long, it’s for 1580.00. we’re an older couple we live in a 2bdrm private house,but gotta move my landlord is selling the house we’re in, I’ve called beyond everybody no help to realtors to housing assistance, to 311 still no help,lawyers, to discrimination ,an been approved for a transfer I just need a 2bdrm apartment,it should not be this hard to find an apartment in New York City .

      2. Hi Everyone, I am a real estate broker with a strong background in working with supplements & programs. I formerly was a director of housing for a non-profit for 13 years. Feel free to
        reach out to me with any vacancies, I have a ton of tenants whom i’ve screen and prospected. 914-413-7344
        nkapropertygroupllc@gmail.com

      3. Can you reach out to me, I’m a housing specialist in a DV shelter an looking for apartments for my clients now.

  4. I, too, would like to know whether this increase will apply to those who are eligible for the CITYFHEPS, have the shopping letter, but have not found an apartment so have not used the voucher as yet.

  5. I have a 2 bedroom in East NY BK – looking for tenants. Cityfheps is good when they answer the phone.

    1. Hi I just received my feps voucher and it’s myself and my 3 year old daughter ready to move asap

  6. Greetings Mr. Graham
    My name is Ernest Poree
    I also have a city fheps voucher
    Single no pets
    60yrs old
    No kids!
    Lay off from pandemic
    Stage & Lighting Designer
    Seeking a one bedroom or large studio! $1265. Now until increase kicks in for $1995.
    If you have anything in Manhattan Harlem , Bronx , Brooklyn . no issues whatever!
    No Drugs No Alcohol No Mental !
    Just housing !
    Looking to get back to work in September when Broadway re opens! If you can assist me in this matter i would be highly grateful and honor the opportunity!

    Sincerely
    Ernest Poree
    erniewoo@rocketmail. com
    646-545-8771

  7. While my daughter and I were away from current apartment due to unsuitable living conditions along with a pandemic going on the owner of the building has wanted all tenants (2 apartments) out in as little as 4weeks after when he purchased as a new owner so he can sell property to flip it for money. My daughter and I were there over 2 years before with no problem from original landlord with no rental assistance program. This new owner has caused us tons of problems the last 2 years, took us to court for non payment after he refused my rent payment and advised me to use the money to move ( move where in short notice with a young child?) did not follow protocol nor eviction moratorium and allowed people into my apartment without my consent and they stole EVERYTHING of value and to their needs, while I was not around along with the Tenant upstairs stealing our things as well including my kitchen stove and dining room table set. My housing attorney informed me before hand I would have to be taken back to court to get a final judgment before any of this could happen and even after that a Marshall would have to be sent out. But no ! I had suspicion of the tenant upstairs moving out The beginning of May so I did not want our valuables and belongings to be left alone while no one would no longer be in the building That is when I came home a few days later to find A Lock on my door!!?? And some items that were clearly in my home outside of the door in hallway. I immediately contacted the police who did nothing. I contacted my attorney and property owner who told me he no longer owns building and he has no means of it and basically hung up on me. My attorney contacted him and it took one week for someone to open my door and now saying it was a few break-ins!? that’s when I found my apartment cleared ,A two bedroom apartment full. Most of our things were already packed up Covid-19 slowed things down for us all. I was so busy trying to get this voucher to help my daughter and I quicker but I’m not familiar with how all this “assistance “works. I didn’t know it would be impossible to find an apartment with the voucher amount because I thought you can add the difference to the City Feps if proof of income/additional source of income until the last minute. I’m here looking for apartments, stressed because the eviction moratorium deadline is arriving had to do workshop classes and learn tenant rights for this voucher and it didn’t even help. Meanwhile all the memories and things I’ve had for years and worked hard for are now gone! And no one even cares. It’s CAMERAS right above my door. 2 of them. They weren’t there to protect me but to spy on us so they can do what was done to us. Police didn’t even attempt to get the footage to know who cut my lock and went in my apartment without consent. I was denied a police report and that report could’ve potentially helped me in retrieving our lost items. Depending on the city and government when In need of help and it’s disappointing as a registered voter an American a New York civilian and you get treated like dirt. I’m a single mother with my hands full as others are as well. If this voucher program was more effective we would’ve found housing as fast as we needed it and would’ve had a place to move – along with all of our things. we would still have them in our new apartment. This has just been a nightmare that shouldn’t have happened this way. American Greed is what this is and unjust.

  8. While I focused on this voucher to help with housing, I lost all my daughter and I had from a slumlord of a landlord and a dirty tenant. If the voucher was more effective it would’ve saved us from this traumatic life changing ordeal. Help out for real don’t fake help . It doesn’t take a genius to know how much rent is and for what size household. Who ever has the power to make a difference make a damn difference. This is housing ,a necessity in life not a voucher for play. Registered voters, tax payers , everyone may need help a time in life. Right now I don’t see any real concerns from the system.. Court.. Police. I’m disgusted with certain behavior and it will be put out there, sad because most already know and go through it as well.

  9. The house where I rent an apartment for my child and me is being sold and we recently received a letter from the homeowner’s attorney ath we mus leave by August 1! Almost panic stricken as school commences early August and I have no apartment to move into as yet.

    Any advice?

    Also, when will the increase in CITYFHEPS voucher take effect? This will be tremendously helpful.

    Desperate, but hopeful!

  10. A friend of mine is in his late 50s and is disabled. He currently has a Cityfheps voucher valued at $1265 for now until the increase is in place. Looking for the Astoria Queens, South West,Queens, Manhattan

  11. My name is Michael Edward Johnson, date of birth,10/25/1950contact information,646-474-8612,l have a medicalrental voucher from CITY FHEPS in the capped amount of $1265, l have Spinal Stenosis, l need to have an operation but l cannot because l cannot find an aprtment for that amount; when will my voucher amount increase?

  12. Its good and all that there is an increase in the vouchers however the increase isn’t enough due to landlords raising the apartment prices when they heard of the increases to CityFheps.
    The majority of landlords ARE NOT ACCEPTING THE VOUCHERS and suddenly no one hears this, knows of this or tries to help us.
    Half of these landlords aren’t even from New York and living here for maybe 10 years doesn’t make you a native New Yorker.
    We were born here, raised and worked here, who gives ANYONE the right to make us feel that we don’t belong here?
    Does the crime in our beloved city end because you purposely try to keep us homeless? Of course it doesn’t. It just keeps getting worse. Now, when will we actually receive vouchers that landlords DO accept? When will the amount of the vouchers actually pay the rent and when/if landlords do the right thing, when will the people who actually pay the landlords pay them ON TIME… Not days and weeks later if at all. Everything has a time limit on it, one usually receives 7 days grace period… You know this. Pay the landlords on time so they can stop telling others that it’s us, the renter/tenant who is late with the funds. Just because we have a voucher doesn’t mean we’re all lunatics, or deranged, or whatever you make up about us. Try being a good landlord and you just might get a great tenant.

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