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Morning Spew

So the Mayor Can Just Ignore Laws Passed by the City Council That He Doesn’t Like?

And some links to kick off your Monday.

9:11 AM EST on January 8, 2024

(Hell Gate)

Last summer, the City Council and Mayor Eric Adams engaged in a real battle, after the City Council approved a package of bills expanding the City's housing voucher program, known as CityFHEPS. Adams vetoed those bills, claiming it would be too costly; the council then overrode his veto. 

Those changes to the voucher program, which extended eligibility to income-qualified families facing eviction who have yet to enter the shelter system, among other tweaks, have an implementation deadline of Tuesday, January 9. But according to reporting by City Limits's Emma Whitford, the Adams administration is basically just ignoring that deadline, and has no plans to implement laws passed by the City Council (emphasis my own):

In late November, shortly after City Limits reported that Mayor Eric Adams' administration was not planning to fully implement a legislative package that would expand eligibility for city rental vouchers, Deputy Council Speaker Diana Ayala sent a letter to Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Molly Park.

Noting that the implementation deadline is looming on Jan. 9, Ayala cited City Limits' coverage: "the administration is referenced as not acting on the legislation, can you confirm this is accurate?" she wrote.

In a Dec. 15 response, Park said that three of the four bills—all of which the City Council passed over mayoral veto in July—are indeed not on the administration's agenda. They all reform the City Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement voucher program, known as CityFHEPS.

Park wrote that these laws "cannot be implemented at this time," citing "substantial financial, operational and legal issues."

Nice to know that the mayor can just ignore laws he doesn't like! Adams has implemented the one change he supported: removing the 90-day shelter stay requirement before people could qualify for a voucher. (Politico has some interesting context on that, reporting last August that senior officials in the Adams admin wanted to push that change through, until Adams's budget director Jacques Jiha objected, saying it would cost too much; after Jiha nixed the idea, the City Council then passed the even-more expansive package.)

Is the City Council going to do anything about this? A City Council spokesperson told City Limits that the mayor "has a responsibility to comply with all local laws," but didn't really say much beyond noting that Adams is "at risk" of being sued.

“If the administration chooses to violate enacted laws and block New Yorkers from access to housing vouchers, it will only place Mayor Adams and the city at risk of legal action from the people most harmed—those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless being denied help by the mayor,” they said.

And some links that cannot be ignored just because you don't like them:

  • Via the CITY: "As Albany legislators begin the new 2024 session, Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is again pitching changes to state law that would expand the definition of who could be involuntarily hospitalized. Currently, only those who pose a threat of serious harm to themselves or others can be hospitalized. In pending legislation, involuntary hospitalization could apply to some people who can’t care for themselves."
  • Even elected officials aren't safe on our streets:
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