Statement from The Legal Aid Society on Enactment of Public Assistance Sanction Reform Legislation

The Legal Aid Society released the following statement today responding to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signing S.3596/A.4250 – bipartisan legislation reforming public assistance sanction laws in New York City.

The new law allows people to receive their basic benefits to help pay rent and other necessities when they comply with work rules, but not before then. The law replaces a punitive system under which even people willing to comply sometimes have to go months without benefits if they miss a single appointment – putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness. By focusing on both preventing erroneous sanctions and permitting people to work right away if they are sanctioned, the law will serve as an effective tool to reduce homelessness.

“The Legal Aid Society serves thousands of clients affected by public assistance sanctions, including those facing eviction in Housing Court and those already in the homeless shelter system when we meet them. Too often the sanctions were arbitrary, excessively punitive and a driver of homelessness. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing S.3596/A.4250 into law. His leadership will help our clients avoid homelessness in the first place and help families in shelter to get into permanent housing more quickly,” said The Legal Aid Society’s Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice Adriene Holder.