City Hall Digs In Against Rental Voucher Expansion

Mayor Eric Adams argued in new court filings that his administration has special authority as an “arm of the state”—part of an ongoing lawsuit filed in February over City Hall’s refusal to implement a suite of laws to expand access to city-funded rental vouchers.

Eric Adams at City Hall

Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams at a housing-related press conference in late 2022.

Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is doubling down on its refusal to implement a suite of laws to expand access to city-funded rental vouchers, arguing in new court documents that the City Council has encroached on the Department of Social Services’ authority to administer the voucher program as an “arm of the state.”

New York’s Social Services Law empowers certain state agencies—the offices of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and Children and Family Services—to set public assistance policy, city lawyers argued. And these state agencies, in turn, extend authority to local Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioners.

In the case of New York City, that’s Commissioner Molly Wasow Park. It’s up to her to implement local laws, subject to OTDA’s approval, according to the city.

“City DSS has declined to undertake rulemaking to implement the… new laws because City DSS, and not the City Council, is empowered to set eligibility criteria for social services housing supplements like CityFHEPS,” they argued. 

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