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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

New York City Forcing Low Income Tenants to Move into Smaller Apartments -- As If NYC Apartments Aren't Already Small Enough


Some ideas may make sense on paper, but when enforced, it can affect people's lives in a very negative way. Take the recent New York attempt to save money on housing. The city's solution to manage a $37 million housing budget shortage was to force tenants to either move into smaller apartment or pay more money for their current apartment. Needless to say, residents and other housing officials were outraged.

The impact of the decision

To save money, the city focused on what they call “overhoused” households, meaning people who live alone but have a 1-2 bedroom apartment. The initial decision was to cut their Section 8 Voucher subsidy so it covered only the cost of a studio apartment. Tenants could either pay extra or move out to a smaller unit. The reaction was outrage. The decision would have affected up to 9,000 tenants in New York City, many of whom are elderly or disabled, and poor. The plan did not take into consideration the real needs of people on the Section 8 rent subsidy program. So, the plan was somewhat changed but is far, far from perfect.

Change of plans, but the plan still stinks

So, here is what New York officials changed: they waived the requirement for tenants with disabilities or health issues that make it necessary for them to have a larger unit for a live-in aide or medical equipment. However, for most, the new policy still applies. For example, families with two or more people with a two-bedroom apartment, as well as single people in a two-bedroom apartment, are still being required to move from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom.

It doesn't matter that for many, this has been their home for years, and they are being forced out. According to city officials, the plan was meant to avoid cutting back on vouchers, which would mean that far fewer people would be able to get government assistance for low-income housing.

This is one housing issue that New Yorkers will have their eye on for some time to come. To be continued...

To read more, visit www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/nyregion/new-york-city-housing-dept-eases-rule-forcing-low-income-tenants-to-downsize.html
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