Everyone agrees, Mayor Bill De Blasio new housing program linc, also known as Living In Communities and CityFeps are both effective and necessary. The programs were additionally expanded to include Veterans residing in the New York City shelter system. In the short term they have moved more residents from the shelter system into permanent stable housing faster than any other program, or so it seems. In an effort to reduce the population residing in the shelters of New York City, the mayor's new housing program provides cash incentives to landlords, tenants, realtors and housing placement organizations. The programs became an overnight success as everyone scrambled to cash in. But as we all learned from the mortgage crisis of 2007, actions that might seem a short term success can actually destroy the economy. This doom and gloom outlook is surely to follow the mayor's new housing programs, if changes are not made immediately.
The focus of the mayor's new rental initiatives are actually erasing years of successfully branding the Section 8 program in the New York City region. For many years, landlords in the area with private residential homes (1-4 units) who accepted Section 8 would re-new leases for existing tenants. These tenants took care of the home, paid their portion of the rent on time and followed all the landlord rules. As landlords, become more aware of the mayor's new programs and the cash incentives, many good Section 8 tenants are now being told their leases will not be renewed. If they are not successful in finding new residency (and many are not), they have no other option but to check back into the shelter system or live with family and friends.
Individuals living with aids, who receive rental assistance from HASA are also feeling the reverse effects of the mayor's new housing programs. They too have to compete with higher rent limits offered to residents living in the shelter system, as well as more cash incentives.
Residents with the housing program FEPS also share a similar heartache. The alternate program offered to tenants in the shelter known as CityFeps, offers more cash incentives and higher rent limits. For example, a resident with a 1 bedroom voucher has a rent limit of $900, while a resident with a similar CityFeps voucher has a rent limit of $1268, at lease signing pays the landlord a $1000 bonus and 4 months advance rent. FEPS renters also are caught in the backlash as private landlords opt to sign-up for the Mayor's new housing programs rather than renew their leases.
The mayor's office also has an aggressive call center contacting landlords that have tenants presently enrolled in a rental program, other than the mayor's new initiative and encouraging them to rent future available apartments to one of the mayor's new program. In many cases, these landlords will not renew existing leases, thereby forcing these tenants to seek new residence, move back into the shelter system or to live with family.
While the Bill De Blasio administration is clearly passionate about reducing the homeless population in New York City, good intentions alone are not enough. Success cannot be achieved on the backs of another group or by tearing down the achievements of a previous administration. In the longterm, New York City will not be a better place for persons with rental assistance due to the Mayor's shortsighted decisions. Incentives and resources need to be shared equally between all programs. Call centers should not only be promoting the mayor's new programs or encouraging landlords to rent to them. The $1000 bonus given to new landlords that sign-up with the mayor's new programs should also be offered to existing tenants outside the shelter system who receive rental assistance but have an expiring lease, or not offered at all. New York City is a great place because we make an extended effort to treat everyone fairly. Lets continue this tradition.