October 5, 2023
Over 4,000 Families Will Enter Affordable Homes More Quickly Every Year
Adams Administration Has Taken Bold Short- and Long-Term Steps to Ease Pressures of Housing Crisis, Including Helping More New Yorkers Move into Permanent Affordable Homes With CityFHEPS Vouchers in FY23 Than in Any Other Year
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr., and New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Eric Enderlin today announced that New York City households with housing vouchers will no longer undergo credit checks when selected for affordable housing — immediately accelerating the process of entering new, affordable homes for over 4,000 families every year. For New Yorkers with rental assistance vouchers, undergoing credit checks and providing rental history represent unnecessary barriers to obtaining affordable housing, since their ability to pay rent is guaranteed by either their qualification for a rental subsidy or by the rental subsidy connected to the affordable unit.
Today’s major action builds on significant steps the Adams administration has taken, particularly as part of Mayor Adams’ “Housing Our Neighbors” blueprint, to get New Yorkers into permanent affordable homes more quickly. Over the last year, Mayor Adams has expanded eligibility for City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) housing vouchers and eliminated both the 90-day waiting period for families in shelters to access CityFHEPS and the four-month period many New Yorkers in shelter were waiting before being evaluated for any permanent housing option. The Adams administration also connected more New Yorkers with CityFHEPS vouchers to permanent affordable homes in Fiscal Year 2023 than in any year in the program’s history, while creating the second-most new affordable homes and the most new supportive homes and homes for New Yorkers formerly homelessness in the city’s history. Mayor Adams continues to tackle the city’s underlying housing shortage — allowing New Yorkers to use CityFHEPS vouchers anywhere in New York state and unveiling an historic proposal last month to update 60-year-old zoning laws and build more than 100,000 additional new homes.
“Since I became mayor, our administration has been relentless in taking on the city’s affordable housing crisis from every angle, and we are taking another critical step forward today,” said Mayor Adams. “Every New Yorker knows we don’t have enough affordable homes, but once you find one, the city should do everything in its power to give you the keys as quickly as possible. Once again, we are taking bold action to make that a reality by no longer requiring New Yorkers to undergo a credit check when selected for affordable housing. This one change will help more than 4,000 New York families move more quickly into a home and take the next step towards building a more supported life.”
“In the midst of a housing and affordability crisis, we must use every tool at our disposal to ease the burden on working families so they can live and thrive in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “Removing credit checks from the housing voucher process will speed up the time it takes for families to move into new homes, providing stability and security to thousands of households each year. This action will improve tenants’ access to affordable housing in a timely manner, including for those experiencing homelessness, who so often have greater barriers to entry in the housing market.”
“If an individual or a family holds a housing voucher, they should be able to secure their new home with as smooth a process as possible,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Today’s announcement cuts additional red tape by eliminating credit checks for voucher holders and enables them to transition more quickly into stable housing. It is yet another step the Adams administration is taking to realize our goal of making a permanent home a reality for every New Yorker.”
“Credit checks create a massive and unnecessary obstacle, disproportionately harming low-income New Yorkers. For people with bad or no credit, the elimination of credit checks could mean the difference between having a home and being homeless,” said HPD Commissioner Carrión. “Eliminating credit checks for voucher holders is an important step towards providing fair and efficient housing to New York City’s most vulnerable residents.”
“With today’s announcement, thousands of New Yorkers will no longer need to fear a credit check impacting their chances to access safe and affordable homes,” said HDC President Enderlin. “I commend our partners for their ongoing efforts to reduce unnecessary burdens and unlock more housing opportunities for those in greatest need.”
“By removing unnecessary barriers to permanent affordable housing and expanding access to city-funded rental assistance, the Adams administration continues to take the necessary steps to move more of our most vulnerable neighbors into the homes they deserve,” said New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Wasow Park. “Credit checks were an onerous and needless requirement for New Yorkers with rental assistance vouchers that guarantee the household’s ability to pay rent. Eliminating them will significantly expedite the process of obtaining affordable housing for thousands New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity each year and allow those most in need to attain housing they have far too long been excluded from.”
Eliminating credit checks will significantly shorten the screening process for New Yorkers with housing vouchers, including Section 8 or CityFHEPS, when applying through Housing Connect for HPD- or HDC-subsidized homes linked to rental subsidies or homes directly set aside for those who formerly experienced homelessness. This pivotal step will promote equity by saving thousands of low-income New Yorkers a hard credit check in the rental application process and potentially harming their credit scores.
The Adams administration made today’s announcement by issuing an amendment — detailed in the HPD-HDC Marketing Handbook — that prohibits marketing agents from conducting credit checks, utilizing credit score information, or requiring rental history in lieu of a credit check to determine eligibility for voucher holders. HPD already allows applicants to opt into providing 12 months of consistent rent payments instead of credit checks, allowing prospective tenants to choose the screening criteria. If the marketing agent is permitted to conduct a credit check, they may only reject applicants on specific grounds, including bankruptcy, delinquencies, collections, money judgments, or liens.
Over 80,000 households have indicated that they qualify for a housing voucher in Housing Connect, the city’s affordable housing lottery. By removing this financial barrier, the amendment ensures that individuals who have lower credit scores or are experiencing financial hardships are not unfairly excluded from critical affordable housing opportunities. Eliminating credit checks not only addresses the immediate housing needs of residents but also paves the way for a more equitable and inclusive housing landscape in New York City.
“This move to reduce the unnecessary barrier of credit checks for voucher-holding New York City residents applying for affordable housing is an excellent use of common sense and collaboration by Mayor Adams, HPD Commissioner Carrión, and HDC President Enderlin,” said New York State Senator Leroy Comrie. “Greater efficiency in the affordable housing application process is going to mean less time that these thousands of families have to spend dealing with the stress and uncertainty of housing insecurity.”
“New Yorkers have long faced the hurdle of needing to satisfy credit reporting requirements in order to qualify for the very subsidies intended to ease significant financial burdens,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “I thank Mayor Adams and Commissioner Carrión for removing this significant barrier for applicants.”
“I applaud Mayor Adams for tackling the housing crisis through this common-sense initiative to fast-track New Yorkers into stable, high-quality, affordable housing,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Removing credit checks for CityFHEPS housing vouchers will make the voucher more flexible and easier to use, ensuring that 4,000 families will enter affordable homes more quickly every year. At the same time, it will save the city at least $1,500 per week for each family that no longer needs to stay in the shelter system. Today’s initiative is one more effective tool to shorten the pathway for individuals experiencing homelessness to stable, permanent, affordable housing.”
“In a significant and compassionate initiative, Mayor Adams and HPD Commissioner Carrión have taken decisive steps to eliminate unnecessary credit checks for voucher holders seeking affordable housing,” said New York State Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia. “This transformative action swiftly opens the door for over 4,000 families to access affordable homes each year. In neighborhoods within the vibrant tapestry of the 86th Assembly District, like University Heights, Morris Heights, Mount Eden, Kingsbridge, Tremont, and Fordham in the Bronx, this measure directly benefits the constituents I represent, ensuring they find stable, affordable housing without unnecessary hurdles.”
“One of the most difficult aspects of navigating affordable housing programs in New York is the long wait times and red tape that are a part of the process,” said New York State Assemblymember Tony Simone. “The decision today to remove the superfluous credit check requirement will make applying for housing easier, shorten wait times, and ensure that people get the access to housing they desperately need. I am glad that Mayor Adams is taking action to simplify the process and improve accessibility to housing for those who need it.”
“Today’s announcement is one of the biggest game changers in addressing our lack of affordable housing crisis,” said Shams DaBaron aka “Da Homeless Hero.” “For far too long, a credit history has prevented many homeless and low-income New Yorkers from being able to access affordable housing options that should be available to them. As a person with no real credit history, I have always been eliminated from these opportunities. Not no more, thanks to Mayor Adams thinking outside of the box and eliminating another one of those barriers that have kept people like me warehoused in shelters without a pathway out. Today, this announcement gives us a better chance to get the housing we deserve. It is clear evidence of the city’s commitment to address and eliminate the administrative burdens that previous administrations allowed to exist at the expense of New Yorkers in need of real, deeply affordable housing options.”
“Urban Upbound applauds the Adams administration’s decision to eliminate credit check requirements for households using housing vouchers, including Section 8 and CityFHEPS,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, CEO and co-founder, Urban Upbound. “This move correctly identifies safe and affordable housing as a strong determinant of an individual or family’s ability to achieve financial stability and personal well-being.”
“Phipps Houses applauds these and all efforts by HPD to streamline the application process for affordable housing,” said Cathy Pennington, general manager and senior vice president, Phipps Houses. “We discontinued the practice of running credit reports for all applicants in 2021 because landlords who rent to families with rental subsidies can be confident that on-time, monthly payments will be made. We look forward to continued collaboration with HPD to further streamline the application and referral process to get families into their new homes more quickly.”
“As one of the largest providers of housing, health care, and employment programs for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, we know we must do everything we can to expand access to affordable housing so individuals and families can attain long-term stability,” said Eric Rosenbaum, president and CEO, Project Renewal. “We applaud the city’s decision to no longer require credit checks for households with vouchers, which will remove a significant barrier for New Yorkers exiting shelter and free the way for those most in need to attain permanent housing.”
“We applaud the city’s decision to eliminate the credit check requirement for households using vouchers for their housing, a key step toward ensuring domestic violence survivors can quickly find safe and stable homes,” said Nicole Branca, executive director, New Destiny Housing. “Financial abuse, one of the most widespread forms of domestic violence, often leaves survivors with poor credit, which makes it extremely difficult to escape, find stable housing, and rebuild their lives. This change removes a major barrier to accessing deeply affordable housing across the city and will be instrumental in ending the cycle of family homelessness and easing the burden on our shelter system.”
“NYSAFAH is extremely supportive of New York City’s decision to remove credit checks for voucher recipients in affordable housing. This will eliminate a pointless administrative process and save time and money for both government and housing providers,” said Jolie Milstein, president and CEO, New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH). “This move is exactly the kind of action that New York City needs to speed up the process of getting New Yorkers into high-quality affordable housing.”
“New Yorkers seeking housing assistance too often face administrative burdens and financial barriers,” said Howard Slatkin, executive director, Citizens Housing and Planning Council. “We commend the city for its efforts to streamline this process and provide smoother access to housing for voucher holders. Each day we can cut off the wait time to get low-income New Yorkers into quality, affordable homes makes a profound difference in their lives.”
“The Housing Partnership appreciates the Adams administration’s continued and demonstrated commitment to streamline the activities that put needy families and individuals in housing quicker, especially during a time of legislative inaction on housing production with an historic housing crisis in every borough of the city,” said Jamie Smarr, president and CEO, Housing Partnership.
“Over the course of the last year, HPD has been focused on ways to get poor and vulnerable households into high-quality, affordable homes faster,” said Kirk Goodrich, president, Monadnock Development. “This initiative brings us one step closer to the ultimate goal of getting every vacant unit filled within 30 days, so we can reduce our reliance on emergency and transition housing alternatives.”
“This is a very welcome revision in HPD’s policy,” said Donald Capoccia, founding member and principal, BFC Partners. “Eliminating this hurdle will enable thousands of income-qualified New Yorkers and their families to move into new units much more quickly than in the past. Those of us involved in affordable housing production, especially our marketing agents, applaud HPD’s willingness to explore and implement changes in efficiency that clearly benefit our future residents.”
“Removing the barrier of credit checks when being approved for affordable housing is an important step in the right direction to decreasing housing instability, homelessness, and human suffering,” said Aaron Carr, founder and executive director, Housing Rights Initiative. “When families have greater access to affordable housing, everyone benefits: families, our communities, and our city.”
“The Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing is encouraged by the Adams administration’s newest efforts to remove barriers to New Yorkers’ ability to utilize federal Section 8 and CityFHEPS housing vouchers in moving from homelessness to housing,” said Marc L. Greenberg, executive director, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. “Addressing New York’s homelessness and affordable housing crisis requires action at many levels, and we are pleased to recognize the administration’s ambitious and visionary initiatives on many fronts — but of all of these, helping make vouchers work better is one of the most effective and immediate remedies that can move our homeless households into housing and at the same time relieve the pressure on our overburdened emergency shelter system. We look forward to a fruitful partnership between the mayor’s team and the community of advocates and service providers, as we continue to reduce the barriers that stand in the way of our homeless sisters and brothers becoming full participants in the greatness that is New York City.”
“New York City workers are struggling to make ends meet. With stagnant wages failing to meet rising inflation, more people than ever before are needing to rely on affordable housing options offered by the city,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Removing this time-consuming and invasive barrier to access apartments working families need to survive here will significantly accelerate the process. Thank you to Mayor Adams and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development for moving this initiative, which will help so many hard-working people across the city.”
“For too long, credit checks have served as a classist and often racist barrier to housing in New York,” said Candis Tall, executive vice president and political director, 32BJ SEIU. “By removing this unnecessary roadblock, Mayor Adams and his administration will streamline city bureaucracy, ensuring that the New Yorkers who need affordable housing the most gain access faster. 32BJ SEIU thanks City Hall for its leadership on the affordability crisis facing our city.”
“This is very good news for New Yorkers applying for affordable housing,” said Irene Baldwin, executive director, Ariva. “Removing unnecessary barriers in the application review process will go a long way to ensuring that New York City’s subsidized apartments go to our neighbors who really need them.”
“This will absolutely facilitate the housing navigation work we do with HPD and NYCHA, placing households with vouchers,” said Paul Nagle, executive director, Stonewall Community Development Corporation. “The migrant crisis, the exploding senior population, and the general scarcity of affordable housing are creating daunting challenges to an already overburdened system. Flexibility and adaptation in city processes will be key to the city’s continued resilience in the face of an ever-growing housing crisis.”
“This opens up a whole new possibility for a better tomorrow for unhoused individuals and families who have been locked out of housing for so long based on their credit. No longer will they be tied down by past decisions now they have the freedom to move forward,” said Fannie Lou Diane, founder, The Eviction Fund of New York City. “The elimination of credit-based barriers to housing opens up new possibilities and opportunities for unhoused individuals and families. By removing credit as a determining factor for housing eligibility, society can address the systemic barriers that have perpetuated homelessness and limited access to affordable housing. Without being tied down by past credit history, unhoused individuals can have a fresh start and a fair chance at finding stable housing. This can significantly improve their quality of life and overall well-being. It allows them to break free from the cycle of homelessness and pursue a better future for themselves and their families. By eliminating credit as a barrier to housing, the city can foster a more inclusive and equitable system that empowers unhoused individuals and families to rebuild their lives and work towards a brighter future.”