Since 1994, only low-income New Yorkers in emergency circumstances-those fleeing domestic violence or families in shelters-could apply for federal housing assistance. But this year, from February until May, the NYC Housing Authority has opened the waiting list for its Section 8 housing-voucher program to the general public. Because of federal funding changes and reforms in local homelessness policies, NYCHA found itself with 22,000 additional housing vouchers-12,000 this year and 10,000 next year. The largest housing authority in the United States, NYCHA handles more than 83,000 Section 8 vouchers. Already this year, more than 300,000 applications have been distributed, which means that the supply still falls far short of the demand.
In another positive move for NYC tenants, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is promising to give a $300 tax credit to renters, a plan similar to one that issues rebates to property owners. Quinn also wants the City Council to pass a law that will permit tenants to sue their landlords for harassment.