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January 25, 2010

New York Congressional Delegation Seeks Alternative Housing Options for Revoked Section 8 Voucher Holders

Washington, DC – The New York City Congressional delegation, led by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), have called on local and State leaders to address the City’s Section 8 funding shortage. Last December the program was overextended causing nearly 2,600 families to have their vouchers revoked. The Congressional members stressed the importance of providing assistance for everyone affected and developing a plan to prevent this from happening again in the future.

“Promising housing vouchers to New York City’s neediest residents and then breaking that commitment is unacceptable,” Velázquez said.

“It is incumbent upon the city and the state to work with NYCHA to find safe, affordable housing for these families,” Schumer said. “It is unacceptable that households were promised housing assistance and, through no fault of their own, did not receive the assistance that they were promised.”

Following is the text of their letter to New York Governor David A. Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

     January 22, 2010

Dear Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg:

As members of the New York Congressional Delegation, we are writing on behalf of the 2,597 households impacted by the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) decision to revoke their Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. These families were under the assumption – many of them for several months – that they would receive a fully-subsidized voucher from NYCHA, only to receive notice in January that the assistance was no longer available. We are concerned that, unless action is taken, many of the affected households will end up in the New York City shelter system unable to find stable housing without the assistance they were promised.

The affected households are some of our City’s most vulnerable residents, including intimidated witnesses, youth aging out of the foster care system, victims of domestic violence and referrals from the New York City Department of Homeless Services (NYC DHS).  These New Yorkers have become victims at a time when housing assistance is needed most, due largely to low attrition rates.  While the economic climate and high unemployment have limited NYCHA’s ability to provide these families with a voucher, it is crucial that NYCHA continues to work with City and State officials to find alternative means of housing assistance.  For example, we support NYC DHS’ request that the New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance (OTDA) provide relief to: (1) the 5,600 formerly homeless families who are Advantage NY participants and need assistance until Section 8 vouchers become available to them; and (2) the approximately 70 families that exit the shelter system each week (about 3,640 families this year) and require a transition from the time-limited Advantage subsidy to the longer-term Section 8 voucher.  However, while this is one alternative solution, it does not meet our standard of covering every family affected by NYCHA’s decision. There must be a plan in place to assist every family affected.

Finding decent, affordable housing for the impacted households is not only necessary, it is a cost-effective solution.  Data suggests that in New York City it costs approximately $26,000 annually to provide someone with assistance in a homeless shelter, whereas a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher would give that same household affordable rental housing for only $11,000 a year.  Clearly, finding alternative housing assistance makes the most economic sense for the state and local governments. 

We strongly urge City and State officials to work together to find a solution that will meet the needs of all households impacted by this unfortunate situation and stand ready to assist in this effort. 


Charles E. Schumer             Kirsten Gillibrand             Nydia M. Velázquez
US Senator                        US Senator                   Member of Congress   

Gary Ackerman                   Yvette D. Clarke             Joseph Crowley
Member of Congress            Member of Congress        Member of Congress  

Eliot Engel                         Carolyn B. Maloney          Michael E. McMahon
Member of Congress            Member of Congress        Member of Congress

Gregory W. Meeks               Jerrold Nadler                 Charles B. Rangel      
Member of Congress            Member of Congress        Member of Congress

José E. Serrano                  Edolphus Towns              Anthony D. Weiner
Member of Congress            Member of Congress        Member of Congress