A new emergency order is now in effect in Broome County that prohibits New York City residents from using NYC housing vouchers within the county. The new order is part of the State of Emergency issued in May related to the City’s attempt to relocate large groups of people to Upstate hotels. The State of Emergency was enacted due to the extremely limited amount of housing currently available in the County.
Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, “New York City is once again trying to relocate individuals with virtually no communication with the rest of the state and no plan in place for how they will track individuals participating in their program. The situation has not changed in Broome County since May: we have a very limited number of places for our own residents to live, both temporarily and long-term. Beyond that, our human resources system is at capacity and our healthcare system continues to be pushed to its limit in the wake of COVID. The limited resources we have are for Broome County residents first and foremost.”
The County Executive’s Office is coordinating with Sheriff Fred Akshar, the County Department of Social Services, and other agencies that may be impacted by the arrival of relocated persons. The Sheriff’s Office has worked since May to educate local hotels and landlords about the State of Emergency and associated emergency orders and is the lead agency on their enforcement.
Sheriff Fred Akshar said, “Our commitment to the safety and security of the residents of Broome County remains unwavering, despite New York City’s varied and continued efforts to surreptitiously relocate large groups of individuals in our community. The latest housing voucher scheme is set to price local families out of much-needed housing, increasing homelessness and creating unsafe situations for our residents across Broome County, especially those already receiving public assistance. The Sheriff’s Office remains committed to our partnership with the County Executive and the men and women serving and protecting our community remain committed to doing everything we can to keep our residents and their families safe.”
The housing vouchers are part of New York City’s Family Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Supplement (FHEPS) program which provides a housing allowance to eligible NYC families currently living in a homeless shelter or at risk of becoming homeless. Under the program’s guidelines, which were created by New York City, vouchers are worth the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) fair market rate for the county in which they are used. In Broome County NYC FHEPS vouchers would be worth $904 for a one-bedroom unit. Broome County residents eligible for housing assistance through DSS would be at a significant disadvantage in finding housing since their housing allowance is far less than the NYC FHEPS amount. The higher amount under FHEPS could result in local families being priced out of their apartments in Broome County, further exacerbating homelessness in our community.
Additionally, there are concerns with how New York City will conduct building inspections for this program, how individuals in the program will be tracked, where they will go when the five-year program expires, and who will provide additional services they may require while living outside of New York City.