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NYC Council overrides Adams’ objections to housing bill

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(The Center Square) — Members of the New York City Council have overridden Mayor Eric Adams’ veto of a housing voucher expansion bill amid concerns it will saddle taxpayers with billions of dollars in costs.

The council voted 48 to 8 on Thursday to override Adams’ objections to a package of bills aimed at making it easier for New Yorkers facing eviction to get housing vouchers, prohibiting landlords from deducting the cost of utility bills from vouchers and increasing the maximum income-level to qualify for emergency housing.

Adams vetoed the plan three weeks ago, arguing it would make it harder for New Yorkers dealing with homelessness to find and afford a permanent place to live while costing taxpayers more than $17 billion.

In a statement, Adams said he was reviewing his options and pointed out that the city needs to do more to ensure an adequate housing supply for its citizens.

“Unlike the council, we do not, however, believe that New Yorkers should spend $17 billion on a package of bills that would put New Yorkers in shelter at the back of the line for a CityFHEPS voucher and make it harder for them to find permanent housing,” he said in a statement.

The package of bills includes a provision ending a New York City policy that requires people to stay in a shelter for 90 days before becoming eligible for a housing voucher. However, Adams had already agreed to end that policy.

That issue is moot, however, as Adams signed an executive order two weeks ago unilaterally lifting the 90-day restriction several weeks ago. His statement claimed the city had approved housing vouchers for 500 families since the policy was lifted.

“The good news is that our efforts to house more New Yorkers, even in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, are working,” Adams said.

The override vote was the first since 2013, when councilors bypassed then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s objections to a policing reform bill.

It’s also the latest in a series of public spats between Adams and fellow Democrats, who hold a majority on the city council, over spending and policy changes.

The wrangling over the housing vouchers comes as New York City is wrestling with the influx of tens of thousands of migrants amid a surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border, adding to the strain on the city’s already overburdened emergency shelter programs.

Adams estimates the city will spend more than $4 billion over the next two years to provide housing, food and other assistance to the new arrivals.

Housing advocates praised the council’s veto override, saying the package of reforms will prevent evictions and help address homelessness.

“But let us be clear, should the Adams Administration refuse to implement these measures or bring a challenge in court, we are prepared to intervene with litigation on behalf of our clients,” Robert Desir, a staff attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said in a statement.

“Given the magnitude of the local housing crisis, we have an obligation to ensure that the New Yorkers we represent have every available option to secure a long-term, safe and affordable place to call home,” he added.

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