Section 8 Federal Housing Subsidy Crisis Averted; Homes of Thousands of Low-Income Families Saved

City and State officials today announced an agreement approved by federal authorities that will save the homes of more than 6,500 low-income families in New York City. Under the plan, the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development would take responsibility for financing thousands of Section 8 federal rent subsidy vouchers from the New York City Housing Authority.

Judith Goldiner, Supervising Attorney of the Civil Law Reform Unit who has been in the forefront of the fight to preserve Section 8 federal subsidy vouchers for the thousands of families at risk, said she was "thrilled". "The agreement preserving Section 8 vouchers for current Section 8 tenants and providing vouchers for the majority of the 2,600 families whose vouchers were terminated in December 2009 is an incredible achievement. Many of the families - Legal Aid's clients - were facing eviction and homelessness and will now be able to retain permanent housing. We thank Rafael Cestero, Commissioner of HPD, and Shaun Donovan, Secretary of HUD, for making this possible. We also praise the tireless advocacy of Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Borough President Scott M. Stringer, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and New York Communities for Change."

Last December, the New York City Housing Authority announced it will had stopped issuing Section 8 vouchers and would be terminating the vouchers of approximately 2,600 families who had yet to fully use them because of federal budget cuts and an increased demand for the vouchers due to the economic downturn. The Legal Aid Society filed a class action lawsuit charging that the New York City Housing Authority was forcing 2,600 families into homelessness by cutting the federal rent subsidy program. A few months later, the Housing Authority confirmed that thousands more families could lose their vouchers because of a $45 million budget shortfall. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development provided an infusion of $24 million, but 4,000 families were still left at risk.

Under the agreement between the City Council, the NYC Housing Authority, and State housing officials, HPD has agreed to spend $32 million to save the remaining vouchers that are in jeopardy.