Mayor Adams vetoes housing bills in a showdown with Council

Gothamist, Elizabeth Kim, June 23, 2023

Mayor Eric Adams is throwing down the gauntlet.

The mayor on Friday announced his veto of four City Council bills seeking to give more assistance to homeless New Yorkers, intensifying his battle with city lawmakers who overwhelmingly approved the legislation last month.

The veto comes one week before the city budget is due amid tense negotiations. The veto — the mayor’s second since taking office in 2022— sets up a political showdown that could further strain Adams’ relationship with a left-leaning Council whose members have opposed his budget cuts and several policy decisions.

Adams and the Council have sharply disagreed over the city’s policy toward homelessness at a moment when the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants have strained city shelters already scrambling for resources.

But Adams has argued the Council’s bills, which seek to expand those eligible for rental subsidies, would come at too high a cost for the city. He says councilmembers should instead focus their efforts on revising zoning regulations that inhibit the building of affordable housing.

“Today, we helped New Yorkers once again by vetoing a package of bills that would take us backwards, 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 mayor said in a statement.

Hinting at a possible lawsuit, the mayor added: “This legislation also clearly exceeds the Council’s legal authority.”

Overturning the bills through another Council vote would be a difficult task for the mayor. They passed 41 to 7, a veto-proof majority in the 51-member Council. That means that Adams would need at least eight members to change their votes.

In a statement released minutes after the mayor’s decision, Speaker Adrienne Adams called the mayor’s veto a “futile political act.”

“The mayor is only hurting the city by delaying solutions and contributing to the eviction crisis that leads more New Yorkers to lose their homes, become homeless, and join the already-high shelter population,” she added.

The Council has succeeded in pressuring the mayor to deliver some relief to homeless New Yorkers. Last Friday he signed an executive order that put into immediate effect one of the measures the Council had proposed: eliminating a rule that requires people to stay in a shelter for 90 days before being eligible for rental assistance.

The mayor’s order, however, imposes stricter work requirements for those seeking housing vouchers while the Council’s bills sought to remove them entirely as a hurdle.

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