NYC Public Advocate Calls On State Government To Convene Special Session On Housing Bills

June 14th, 2023

Press Release

After the 2023 state legislative session failed to produce any meaningful action on housing, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams today called for legislators to continue working toward and enacting a deal, rather than leaving New Yorkers without relief until next year.  In a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the Public Advocate urged the state legislature to return to the Capitol for a special session to pass a package of housing legislation that would provide both immediate and long term relief to tenants across the city and state.

Specifically, the Public Advocate is calling on the state legislature to pass, and the governor to sign, a package of tenant protection and support bills that have needlessly stalled in Albany, including the Right to Counsel 2.0, create of a Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) , and Good Cause Eviction. This comes after the Assembly announced Tuesday that it would reconvene next week to finalize legislative business.

“I ask, on behalf of New Yorkers struggling to find and remain in their homes, that the three of you work together imminently to discuss and finalize an agreement around Right to Counsel, HAVP and Good Cause Eviction protection,” Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams wrote. “This includes any needed special session, with assurance that the governor will immediately sign these bills into law. With rents spiking to historic highs, and thousands facing eviction, Albany has a moral and governing mandate to not let these issues go unaddressed for months that New Yorkers cannot afford.”

The housing and homeless crisis that has long impacted New York City has only worsened in recent months and years. There are an estimated 92,000 people in the city without a home, rents have made this city the most expensive in the nation, and half of all New York families are unable to afford even the minimum costs of living here. About one in ten children in New York City are without a home, and in some areas, one in five. The reality of this crisis is present, the call to action urgent.

The full letter from the Public Advocate to state leadership is below.

Dear Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Heastie,

This letter is in regards to the state’s failure to pass meaningful housing legislation. 

In the midst of a housing crisis, the New York State government failed to deliver much needed housing relief to the people of New York. First we watched the Governor’s Housing Package collapse, without any community input. After the NYS Budget passed, it was disappointing to not see the Right to Counsel 2.0, the Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP), and Good Cause Eviction legislation voted on this session. However, I understood the housing coalition’s support of the end-of-session amended versions, despite these versions gutting the full weight of the bills, as concessions were necessary to secure votes for passage. Even given these concessions, the session ended with no consensus on housing legislation, leaving the people of New York without vital protections and resources in the midst of a historic housing crisis.

While building income-targeted affordable housing is desperately needed, it is also a longer term solution. Preserving units that already exist is paramount to helping right now. Right to Counsel 2.0, HAVP and Good Cause Eviction protections are the most immediate solutions. To be clear, the proposals as presented were watered down and filled with items supporting real estate interests, the very same entities responsible for and contributing to the housing crisis, and were hard to accept. Still failing to pass a single housing bill, when New Yorkers’ need for housing is so dire should not be where we end up.

I ask, on behalf of New Yorkers struggling to find and remain in their homes, that the three of you work together imminently to discuss and finalize an agreement around Right to Counsel, HAVP and Good Cause Eviction protection. This includes any needed special session with assurance that the governor will immediately sign these bills into law. With rents spiking to historic highs, and thousands facing eviction, Albany has a moral and governing mandate to not let these issues go unaddressed for months that New Yorkers cannot afford.

Sincerely, 

Jumaane D. Williams 

Public Advocate for the City of New York

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