NEW YORK (PIX11) — The New York City Council voted Thursday to reform the city’s housing voucher program in an attempt to reduce homelessness and help with the asylum seeker crisis.

It happened against the wishes of Mayor Eric Adams, who said what the City Council is doing could actually make the situation worse.

“We will pass the legislation today, the entire package, we have no doubt about that,” said a determined City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams ahead of the vote.

The reforms to FHEPS will:

  • Remove a rule that requires people to wait 90 days and shelter before they can apply for a housing voucher
  • Lower the income threshold that makes people voucher eligible
  • Stop utilities from being deducted from a voucher’s value
  • Change work requirements
  • Allow people on the verge of eviction to apply for a voucher to help them stay in their apartments

Adams’ staff members have said expanding the program in this way will cost billions the city does not have, and make an administrative backlog to get rental assistance even worse.

Homeless advocate Shams DeBaron agreed with the mayor, noting many people holding vouchers right now still can’t even find housing.

“We can’t even find spots for the 20,000 seeking to use a voucher now,” he said.

The mayor instead was pushing for a more narrow change that would allow families in need of vouchers to avoid the 90-day shelter waiting rule.

However, the City Council felt this would not go far enough to address the homeless and migrant crisis. They said these changes will actually save the city money because permanent housing, even with the help of a voucher, is many times cheaper than keeping someone in an emergency shelter. They also said this will open up shelter space for the thousands of migrants arriving weekly.

As for any administrative backlog, councilmembers blamed the mayor for understaffing the city and not better administering the voucher program.

The housing voucher changes passed with a veto-proof majority.