NEW YORK CITY — A new bill making its way through City Council could expand the city’s housing voucher program, and at a time when it’s very much in need for many families.
LaRita Phelps has lived in temporary housing with her children for two and a half years. As a homeless single mother, she qualified for a city Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement.
But Phelps could never find an apartment that she could afford.
“I am looking forward to getting a home and not just a place to live,” she said.
And this has not been an isolated problem just for her.
“In the entire city of New York, [there are] 564 apartments, five-six-four, that these current FHEPS vouchers could get a homeless individual or a family into,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
That’s only a few hundred apartments for tens of thousands of qualified people.
But legislation that would increase the value of a city FHEPS voucher is expected to pass the New York City Council Thursday.
Councilman Stephen Levin was the sponsor.
“Over the whole course of the year, only 20% of city FHEPS voucher holders ended up getting an apartment,” Levin said.
Christine Quinn, the former city council speaker, now heads WIN, Women In Need. She has pushed for this.
“It will take the FHEPS voucher amount to the fair market rent, which is basically the same as Section 8,” Quinn said. “For a mom with two children, it’s $2,217.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed support in the past for the state to put more money into housing vouchers.
If the city makes this happen, Phelps said she is optimistic the home she has dreamed of will become a reality.
“It’s going to feel amazingly free. It’s going to feel like it was all worth it,” she said.