New York’s Department of Homeless Services has announced plans to cover, at least temporarily, the cost of more than half of the $800 housing vouchers the city announced plans to default on yesterday.
Homeless Services Commissioner Rob Hess says that the city will cover immediate rent costs for 1,800 families facing homelessness as a result of the Housing Authority’s decision to revoke 3,018 already-issued Section 8 vouchers. The city stopped issuing vouchers to anyone who wasn’t in emergency need in May, so the 1,218 families still at risk of losing their homes are in dire straits. No families currrently receiving assistance are affected.
NYCHA blames the withdrawal of the vouchers on “Congress, a lower- than-usual attrition rate in the program and unprecedented demand.” Less-diplomatic observers are suggesting a problem between the city’s housing program and HUD, which isn’t satisfied with the way New York is spending its money.
HUD Assistant Secretary Sandra Henriquez says explains the federal action by saying that “NYCHA, like all public housing authorities, has a responsibility to ensure that they operate their Section 8 program within their budget.” Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, is promising to twist arms until the subsidies are restored.
128,000 families are still on the inactive waiting list.