Mayor Eric Adams has rejected a collection of bills from the New York City Council to modify and broaden the city’s housing voucher program, arguing that the City Council exceeded its legal purview.
His action sets the stage for a potential clash with lawmakers, despite City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’s comment that any veto would merely be a form of “theater” given that the council had enough votes to override it.
Adams argued that the bills, rather than progressing, would regress the situation by extending shelter stays for vulnerable New Yorkers.
He said, “Today, we helped New Yorkers once again by vetoing a package of bills that would take us backward by leading to longer shelter stays for the most vulnerable New Yorkers while simultaneously creating a structure that could saddle taxpayers with billions of dollars in costs each year.”
The disagreement emerges amid heated negotiations over Mayor Adams’s proposed $106.7 billion spending plan. The rejected legislative package aimed to eliminate the requirement for individuals to live in a shelter for 90 days before receiving a voucher, a measure that Adams subsequently approved and implemented independently.
The vetoed bills included provisions for New Yorkers at risk of eviction to apply for a housing voucher before entering the shelter system, prevention of landlords from deducting utility costs from a voucher, and an increase in the income-level thresholds for aid eligibility.
In his explanation for the veto, Mayor Adams remarked, “Instead of tackling decades of exclusionary zoning policies that have prevented our city from building an adequate housing supply, which has left nearly 20,000 current voucher holders unable to find housing, these bills would remove the city’s ability to target limited resources for those most in need.”
The Mayor’s office had projected that the proposed legislation would cost around $17 billion over a half-decade, a figure disputed by the bill authors, who estimate the cost to be closer to $10 billion.
In response to the veto, Councilwoman Diana Ayala expressed confidence in the council’s ability to override the Mayor’s decision. Ayala referred to the veto as a symbolic demonstration of the Mayor’s objection to the bills.
This could be the first veto override by lawmakers since 2013 when the council overturned Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto on a police reform package. Council sources confirm that city regulations grant lawmakers a month to override a veto officially.
Christine Quinn, a former Council Speaker and current leader of WIN, one of the city’s largest non-profit operators of shelters for women and children, strongly supported the voucher expansion and criticized the veto. Other lawmakers and advocates also swiftly rallied in opposition to the veto.