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A03701 Summary:

COSPNSRRosenthal L, Barnwell, Jacobson, Kim, Hunter, Quart, Joyner, Walker, Hevesi, Aubry, Epstein, Dinowitz, Niou, Barron, Reyes, Taylor, Cruz, Gottfried, Colton, Rozic, Simon, Carroll, Davila, Richardson, Dickens, Fahy, Fernandez, Seawright, Pichardo, Bichotte Hermelyn, Lupardo, Perry, Glick, O'Donnell, Frontus, Rivera J, Weprin, Bronson, Gonzalez-Rojas, Gallagher, Clark, Anderson, Forrest, Jackson, Kelles, Meeks, Mamdani, Zinerman, Septimo, Lunsford, Otis, Mitaynes, Paulin, Burdick, Benedetto, Dilan, Ramos, Burgos, Gibbs, De Los Santos
Add Art 14 §§600 - 618, Pub Hous L
Relates to establishing the housing access voucher program; provides that the commissioner of the division of housing and community renewal shall implement a program of rental assistance in the form of housing vouchers for eligible individuals and families who are homeless or who face an imminent loss of housing; provides that the commissioner shall designate public housing access voucher local administrators in the state to administer the program.
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A03701 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    January 28, 2021
        Introduced  by  M.  of  A. CYMBROWITZ, L. ROSENTHAL, BARNWELL, JACOBSON,
          LUNSFORD, OTIS, MITAYNES, PAULIN, BURDICK -- Multi-Sponsored by --  M.
          of  A.  COOK  -- read once and referred to the Committee on Housing --
          committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as  amended  and
          recommitted to said committee -- recommitted to the Committee on Hous-
          ing   in  accordance  with  Assembly  Rule  3,  sec.  2  --  committee
          discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
          to said committee
        AN ACT to amend the public housing law, in relation to establishing  the
          housing access voucher program
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section 1. The public housing law is amended by adding a  new  article
     2  14 to read as follows:
     3                                 ARTICLE 14
     4                       HOUSING ACCESS VOUCHER PROGRAM
     5  Section 600. Legislative findings.
     6          601. Definitions.
     7          602. Housing access voucher program.
     8          603. Eligibility.
     9          604. Funding allocation and distribution.
    10          605. Payment of housing vouchers.
    11          606. Leases and tenancy.
    12          607. Rental obligation.
    13          608. Monthly assistance payment.
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 3701--B                          2
     1          609. Inspection of units.
     2          610. Rent.
     3          611. Vacated units.
     4          612. Leasing  of  units  owned by a housing access voucher local
     5                 administrator.
     6          613. Verification of income.
     7          614. Division of an assisted family.
     8          615. Maintenance of effort.
     9          616. Vouchers statewide.
    10          617. Applicable codes.
    11          618. Housing choice.
    12    § 600. Legislative findings. The legislature finds that it is  in  the
    13  public  interest  and an obligation of the state to ensure that individ-
    14  uals and families are not rendered homeless because of an  inability  to
    15  pay  the  cost of housing, and that the state should aid individuals and
    16  families who are homeless or face an imminent loss of housing in obtain-
    17  ing and maintaining suitable permanent housing in  accordance  with  the
    18  provisions of this article.
    19    § 601. Definitions.  For  the  purposes of this article, the following
    20  terms shall have the following meanings:
    21    1. "Homeless" means  lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate  nighttime
    22  residence;  having  a  primary  nighttime  residence that is a public or
    23  private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular  sleeping
    24  accommodation  for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned build-
    25  ing, bus or train station, airport, campground, or other place not meant
    26  for human habitation; living in a supervised publicly or privately oper-
    27  ated  shelter  designated  to  provide  temporary  living   arrangements
    28  (including hotels and motels paid for by federal, state or local govern-
    29  ment programs for low-income individuals or by charitable organizations,
    30  congregate  shelters,  or  transitional housing); exiting an institution
    31  where an individual or family has resided and lacking  a  regular  fixed
    32  and  adequate  nighttime  residence  upon  release or discharge; being a
    33  homeless family with children or unaccompanied youth defined as homeless
    34  under 42 U.S.C. § 11302(a); having experienced a long-term period  with-
    35  out  living  independently  in  permanent  housing or having experienced
    36  persistent instability as measured by frequent moves and  being  reason-
    37  ably  expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time
    38  because of chronic  disabilities,  chronic  physical  health  or  mental
    39  health  conditions,  substance addiction, histories of domestic violence
    40  or childhood abuse, the presence of a child or youth with a  disability,
    41  multiple  barriers to employment, or other dangerous or life-threatening
    42  conditions, including conditions that  relate  to  violence  against  an
    43  individual or a family member.
    44    2.  "Imminent  loss  of housing" means having received a verified rent
    45  demand or a petition for eviction; having received a court order result-
    46  ing from an eviction action that notifies the individual or family  that
    47  they  must  leave  their  housing; facing loss of housing due to a court
    48  order to vacate the premises due  to  hazardous  conditions,  which  may
    49  include  but not be limited to asbestos, lead exposure, mold, and radon;
    50  having a primary nighttime residence that is a room in a hotel or  motel
    51  and  lacking the resources necessary to stay; facing loss of the primary
    52  nighttime residence, which may include living in  the  home  of  another
    53  household,  where  the owner or renter of the housing will not allow the
    54  individual or family to stay, provided further, that an  assertion  from
    55  an  individual  or  family member alleging such loss of housing or home-
    56  lessness shall be sufficient to establish  eligibility;  or  fleeing  or

        A. 3701--B                          3
     1  attempting  to  flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault,
     2  stalking, human  trafficking  or  other  dangerous  or  life-threatening
     3  conditions  that  relate  to violence against the individual or a family
     4  member,  provided further that an assertion from an individual or family
     5  member alleging such abuse and loss of housing shall  be  sufficient  to
     6  establish eligibility.
     7    3.  "Public  housing  agency" means any county, municipality, or other
     8  governmental entity or public body that is authorized to administer  any
     9  public housing program (or an agency or instrumentality of such an enti-
    10  ty),  and any other public or private non-profit entity that administers
    11  any other public housing program or assistance.
    12    4. "Section 8 local administrator" means an organization that adminis-
    13  ters the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers program within  a  community,
    14  county or region, or statewide, on behalf of and under contract with the
    15  housing trust fund corporation.
    16    5. "Housing access voucher local administrator" means a public housing
    17  agency,  as  defined  in subdivision three of this section, or Section 8
    18  local administrator designated to administer the housing access  voucher
    19  program within a community, county or region, or statewide, on behalf of
    20  and under contract with the housing trust fund corporation.
    21    6.  "Family"  means  a  group of persons residing together. Such group
    22  includes, but is not limited to a family with  or  without  children  (a
    23  child  who  is  temporarily  away  from the home because of placement in
    24  foster care is considered a member  of  the  family)  or  any  remaining
    25  members  of  a tenant family. The commissioner shall have the discretion
    26  to determine if any other group of persons qualifies as a family.
    27    7. "Owner" means any private person or any entity, including a cooper-
    28  ative, an agency of the federal government, or a public housing  agency,
    29  having the legal right to lease or sublease dwelling units.
    30    8. "Dwelling unit" means  a single-family dwelling, including attached
    31  structures  such as porches and stoops; or a single-family dwelling unit
    32  in a structure that contains more than one separate residential dwelling
    33  unit, and in which each such unit is used or occupied, or intended to be
    34  used or occupied, in whole or in part, as the residence of one  or  more
    35  persons.
    36    9. "Income" means income from all sources of each member of the house-
    37  hold,  including all wages, tips, over-time, salary, welfare assistance,
    38  social security payments, child support  payments,  returns  on  invest-
    39  ments,  and  recurring  gifts.  The  term  "income"  shall  not include:
    40  employment income from children under eighteen years of age,  employment
    41  income  from  children  eighteen years of age or older who are full-time
    42  students, foster care payments, sporadic gifts,  groceries  provided  by
    43  persons  not  living in the household, supplemental nutrition assistance
    44  program (food stamp) benefits, earned income  disregard  (EID),  or  the
    45  earned income tax credit.
    46    10.  "Adjusted  income" means income minus any deductions allowable by
    47  the rules promulgated by the  commissioner  pursuant  to  this  article.
    48  Mandatory deductions shall include:
    49    (a) four hundred eighty dollars for each dependent;
    50    (b) four hundred dollars for any elderly family member and/or a family
    51  member with a disability;
    52    (c) any reasonable child care expenses necessary to enable a member of
    53  the family to be employed or to further his or her education;
    54    (d)  The  sum  total of unreimbursed medical expenses for each elderly
    55  family member and/or family member with a disability  plus  unreimbursed
    56  attendant  care and/or medical apparatus expenses for each member of the

        A. 3701--B                          4
     1  family with a disability which are necessary for any member of the fami-
     2  ly (including the member of the family who is a person with a  disabili-
     3  ty)  to  be  employed,  that is greater than three percent of the annual
     4  income; and
     5    (e) expenses related to child support payments due and owing.
     6    11.  "Reasonable  rent"  means  rent not more than the rent charged on
     7  comparable units in the private unassisted market and rent  charged  for
     8  comparable unassisted units in the premises.
     9    12. "Fair market rent" means the fair market rent for each rental area
    10  as  promulgated  annually by the United States department of housing and
    11  urban development's office of policy development and  research  pursuant
    12  to 42 U.S.C. 1437f.
    13    13. "Voucher" means a document issued by the housing trust fund corpo-
    14  ration  pursuant to this article to an individual or family selected for
    15  admission to the housing access voucher program,  which  describes  such
    16  program and the procedures for approval of a unit selected by the family
    17  and  states  the  obligations  of  the  individual  or  family under the
    18  program.
    19    14. "Lease" means a written agreement between an owner  and  a  tenant
    20  for  the leasing of a dwelling unit to the tenant. The lease establishes
    21  the conditions for occupancy of the dwelling unit by  an  individual  or
    22  family  with  housing  assistance  payments under a contract between the
    23  owner and the housing access voucher local administrator.
    24    15. "Dependent" means any member of the family who is neither the head
    25  of household, nor the head of the household's spouse, and who is:
    26    (a) under the age of eighteen;
    27    (b) a person with a disability; or
    28    (c) a full-time student.
    29    16. "Elderly" means a person sixty-two years of age or older.
    30    17. "Child care expenses" means expenses relating to the care of chil-
    31  dren under the age of thirteen.
    32    18. "Severely rent burdened" means those individuals and families  who
    33  pay  more  than  fifty percent of their income in rent as defined by the
    34  United States census bureau.
    35    19. "Disability" means:
    36    (a) the inability to engage in any  substantial  gainful  activity  by
    37  reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which
    38  can  be  expected  to  result  in  death  or  which has lasted or can be
    39  expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months;
    40  or
    41    (b) in the case of an individual who has attained the  age  of  fifty-
    42  five  and  is blind, the inability by reason of such blindness to engage
    43  in substantial gainful activity requiring skills or abilities comparable
    44  to those of any gainful activity in which they have  previously  engaged
    45  with some regularity and over a substantial period of time; or
    46    (c) a physical, mental, or emotional impairment which:
    47    (i) is expected to be of long-continued and indefinite duration;
    48    (ii)  substantially  impedes his or her ability to live independently;
    49  and
    50    (iii) is of such a nature that such ability could be improved by  more
    51  suitable housing conditions; or
    52    (d) a developmental disability that is a severe, chronic disability of
    53  an individual that:
    54    (i)  is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination
    55  of mental and physical impairments;
    56    (ii) is manifested before the individual attains age twenty-two;

        A. 3701--B                          5
     1    (iii) is likely to continue indefinitely;
     2    (iv) results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of
     3  the following areas of major life activity:
     4    (A) self-care;
     5    (B) receptive and expressive language;
     6    (C) learning;
     7    (D) mobility;
     8    (E) self-direction;
     9    (F) capacity for independent living; or
    10    (G) economic self-sufficiency; and
    11    (v)  reflects  the individual's need for a combination and sequence of
    12  special,  interdisciplinary,   or   generic   services,   individualized
    13  supports,  or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended
    14  duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
    15    § 602. Housing access voucher program. The  commissioner,  subject  to
    16  the  appropriation  of funds for this purpose, shall implement a program
    17  of rental assistance in the form of housing vouchers for eligible  indi-
    18  viduals  and  families  who are homeless or who face an imminent loss of
    19  housing in accordance with the provisions of this article.  The  housing
    20  trust  fund  corporation  shall issue vouchers pursuant to this article,
    21  subject to appropriation of funds for this  purpose,  and  may  contract
    22  with  the  division  of  housing and community renewal to administer any
    23  aspect of this program in accordance with the provisions of  this  arti-
    24  cle.  The  commissioner  shall  designate  housing  access voucher local
    25  administrators in the state to make vouchers available to such  individ-
    26  uals  and  families  and  to  administer other aspects of the program in
    27  accordance with the provisions of this article. In the city of New York,
    28  the housing access voucher local administrator shall  be  the  New  York
    29  city department of housing preservation and development, or the New York
    30  city housing authority, or both.
    31    § 603. Eligibility.  The  commissioner  shall promulgate standards for
    32  determining eligibility for assistance under this  program.  Individuals
    33  and  families  who  meet  the  standards shall be eligible regardless of
    34  immigration status. Eligibility shall  be  limited  to  individuals  and
    35  families  who  are  homeless or facing imminent loss of housing. Housing
    36  access voucher local administrators may rely on  correspondence  from  a
    37  homeless  shelter or similar institution or program to determine whether
    38  an applicant qualifies as a homeless individual or family.
    39    1. An individual or family shall be eligible for this program if  they
    40  are homeless or facing imminent loss of housing and have an income of no
    41  more  than  fifty  percent  of the area median income, as defined by the
    42  federal department of housing and urban development.
    43    2. An individual or family in receipt of rental assistance pursuant to
    44  this program shall be no longer financially eligible for such assistance
    45  under this program when thirty percent of the individual's  or  family's
    46  adjusted  income  is  greater  than  or  equal to the total rent for the
    47  dwelling unit.
    48    3. When an individual or family  becomes  financially  ineligible  for
    49  rental assistance under this program pursuant to subdivision two of this
    50  section,  the  individual or family shall retain rental assistance for a
    51  period no shorter than one year, subject to appropriation of  funds  for
    52  this purpose.
    53    4.  Income  eligibility  shall  be  verified prior to a public housing
    54  agency's initial determination to provide  rental  assistance  for  this
    55  program  and  upon  determination  of such eligibility, an individual or

        A. 3701--B                          6
     1  family shall annually certify their income for the purpose of  determin-
     2  ing continued eligibility and any adjustments to such rental assistance.
     3    5.  The    commissioner shall collaborate with the office of temporary
     4  and disability assistance and other state and  city  agencies  to  allow
     5  public  housing agencies to access income information for the purpose of
     6  verifying an individual's or family's income.
     7    § 604. Funding allocation and distribution. 1. Funding shall be  allo-
     8  cated  by  the  commissioner  in each county and the city of New York in
     9  proportion to the number of households in each county or the city of New
    10  York who are severely rent burdened  based  on  data  published  by  the
    11  United States census bureau.
    12    2.  The  commissioner  shall be responsible for distributing the funds
    13  allocated in each county or the city of New York  among  housing  access
    14  voucher  local administrators operating in each county or in the city of
    15  New York.
    16    3. At least fifty percent of funds distributed in each  county  or  in
    17  the  city  of New York shall be allocated to individuals or families who
    18  are homeless. If a county is unable to fully distribute all funds  allo-
    19  cated pursuant to this program under this section, such county may spend
    20  fewer  than  fifty  percent  of  its  funds  for those who are homeless,
    21  provided that all eligible applicant individuals  or  families  who  are
    22  homeless have been served.
    23    4. At least eighty-five percent of funds distributed in each county or
    24  in  the  city  of  New York for individuals or families who are homeless
    25  pursuant to subdivision three of this  section  shall  be  allocated  to
    26  individuals  and families whose income does not exceed thirty percent of
    27  the area median income as defined by the federal department  of  housing
    28  and urban development.
    29    5.  Of  the  funds  allocated  to individuals and families who face an
    30  imminent loss of housing, priority shall be  given  to  individuals  and
    31  families who have formerly experienced homelessness, including those who
    32  have  previously  received  a temporary rental voucher from the state, a
    33  locality, or a non-profit organization or who currently  have  a  rental
    34  assistance  voucher  that is due to expire within six months of applica-
    35  tion.
    36    § 605. Payment of housing vouchers. The housing voucher shall be  paid
    37  directly to any owner under a contract between the owner of the dwelling
    38  unit to be occupied by the voucher recipient and the appropriate housing
    39  access   voucher  local  administrator.  A  housing  assistance  payment
    40  contract entered into pursuant to this section shall establish the maxi-
    41  mum monthly rent (including utilities and all maintenance and management
    42  charges) which the owner is entitled to receive for each  dwelling  unit
    43  with respect to which such assistance payments are to be made. The maxi-
    44  mum  monthly  rent  shall not exceed one hundred ten percent nor be less
    45  than ninety percent of the fair market rent for the rental area in which
    46  it is located.  Fair market rent for a rental area  shall  be  published
    47  not  less  than annually by the commissioner and shall be made available
    48  on the website of New York state homes and community renewal.
    49    § 606. Leases and tenancy. Each housing  assistance  payment  contract
    50  entered  into  by  a  housing access voucher local administrator and the
    51  owner of a dwelling unit shall provide:
    52    1. that the lease between the tenant and the owner shall be for a term
    53  of not less than one year, except that the housing access voucher  local
    54  administrator  may  approve  a shorter term for an initial lease between
    55  the tenant and the dwelling unit owner if  the  housing  access  voucher
    56  local  administrator  determines  that  such  shorter term would improve

        A. 3701--B                          7
     1  housing opportunities for the tenant and if such shorter term is consid-
     2  ered to be a prevailing local market practice;
     3    2. that the dwelling unit owner shall offer leases to tenants assisted
     4  under this article that:
     5    (a)  are  in a standard form used in the locality by the dwelling unit
     6  owner; and
     7    (b) contain terms and conditions that:
     8    (i) are consistent with state and local law; and
     9    (ii) apply generally to tenants in the property who are  not  assisted
    10  under this article;
    11    (c)  shall  provide that during the term of the lease, the owner shall
    12  not terminate the tenancy except for serious or  repeated  violation  of
    13  the terms and conditions of the lease, for violation of applicable state
    14  or  local  law, or for other good cause, and in the case of an owner who
    15  is an immediate successor in interest pursuant to foreclosure during the
    16  term of the lease vacating the property prior to sale shall not  consti-
    17  tute  other  good cause, except that the owner may terminate the tenancy
    18  effective on the date of transfer of the unit to the owner if the owner:
    19    (i) will occupy the unit as a primary residence; and
    20    (ii) has provided the tenant a notice to vacate at least  ninety  days
    21  before the effective date of such notice;
    22    (d)  shall  provide that any termination of tenancy under this section
    23  shall be preceded by the provision of written notice by the owner to the
    24  tenant specifying the grounds for that action, and any relief  shall  be
    25  consistent with applicable state and local law;
    26    3.  that  any  unit under an assistance contract originated under this
    27  article shall only be occupied by the individual or family designated in
    28  said contract and shall be the designated individual or family's primary
    29  residence. Contracts shall not be transferable between units  and  shall
    30  not  be  transferable  between  recipients.  A  family or individual may
    31  transfer their voucher to a different unit under a new contract pursuant
    32  to this article;
    33    4. that an owner shall not charge  more  than  a  reasonable  rent  as
    34  defined in section six hundred one of this article.
    35    § 607. Rental  obligation.  1.  The  monthly  rental obligation for an
    36  individual or family receiving housing assistance pursuant to the  hous-
    37  ing access voucher program shall be the greater of:
    38    (a)  thirty  percent  of  the monthly adjusted income of the family or
    39  individual; or
    40    (b) If the family or individual  is  receiving  payments  for  welfare
    41  assistance  from  a public agency and a part of those payments, adjusted
    42  in accordance with the actual housing costs of the  family,  is  specif-
    43  ically  designated by that agency to meet the housing costs of the fami-
    44  ly, the portion of those payments that is so designated. These  payments
    45  include,  but  are  not  limited  to  any  shelter assistance or housing
    46  assistance administered by any federal, state or local agency.
    47    2. If the rent for the individual  or  family  (including  the  amount
    48  allowed for tenant-paid utilities) exceeds the applicable payment stand-
    49  ard  established under subdivision three of section six hundred eight of
    50  this article, the monthly assistance payment for  the  family  shall  be
    51  equal to the amount by which the applicable payment standard exceeds the
    52  greater  of  amounts  under paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision one of
    53  this section.
    54    § 608. Monthly assistance  payment.  1.  The  amount  of  the  monthly
    55  assistance  payment  with  respect  to  any  dwelling  unit shall be the
    56  difference between the maximum monthly rent which the contract  provides

        A. 3701--B                          8
     1  that the owner is to receive for the unit and the rent the individual or
     2  family  is required to pay under section six hundred seven of this arti-
     3  cle. Reviews of income shall be made no less frequently than annually.
     4    2.  The commissioner shall establish maximum rent levels for different
     5  sized rentals in each rental area in a manner that promotes the  use  of
     6  the  program  in  all  localities based on the fair market rental of the
     7  rental area. Rental areas shall be delineated by county, excepting  that
     8  the  city  of  New York shall be considered one rental area. The commis-
     9  sioner may rely on data or other information promulgated  by  any  other
    10  state  or federal agency in determining the rental areas and fair market
    11  rent.
    12    3. The payment standard for each size of dwelling  unit  in  a  rental
    13  area  shall  not  be  less  than ninety percent and shall not exceed one
    14  hundred ten percent of the fair market rent established in  section  six
    15  hundred  one  of  this article for the same size of dwelling unit in the
    16  same rental area, except that the commissioner shall not be required  as
    17  a  result  of  a reduction in the fair market rent to reduce the payment
    18  standard applied to a family continuing to reside in a  unit  for  which
    19  the  family  was receiving assistance under this article at the time the
    20  fair market rent was reduced.
    21    § 609. Inspection of units. 1. Initial inspection.
    22    (a) For each dwelling unit for  which  a  housing  assistance  payment
    23  contract  is  established under this article, the housing access voucher
    24  local administrator (or other entity pursuant  to  section  six  hundred
    25  twelve  of  this  article)  shall inspect the unit before any assistance
    26  payment is made to determine whether the dwelling unit meets the housing
    27  quality standards under subdivision  two  of  this  section,  except  as
    28  provided in paragraph (b) or (c) of this subdivision.
    29    (b)  In  the case of any dwelling unit that is determined, pursuant to
    30  an inspection under paragraph (a) of this subdivision, not to  meet  the
    31  housing quality standards under subdivision two of this section, assist-
    32  ance  payments may be made at the discretion of a housing access voucher
    33  local administrator for the unit notwithstanding  subdivision  three  of
    34  this  section if failure to meet such standards is a result only of non-
    35  life-threatening conditions, as such conditions are established  by  the
    36  commissioner.  A  housing  access  voucher  local  administrator  making
    37  assistance payments pursuant to  this  paragraph  for  a  dwelling  unit
    38  shall,  thirty  days  after  the  beginning of the period for which such
    39  payments are made, withhold any assistance payments for the unit if  any
    40  deficiency resulting in noncompliance with the housing quality standards
    41  has  not  been  corrected by such time. The housing access voucher local
    42  administrator shall recommence assistance payments when such  deficiency
    43  has been corrected, and may use any payments withheld to make assistance
    44  payments relating to the period during which payments were withheld.
    45    (c)  In  the case of any property that within the previous twenty-four
    46  months has met the requirements of an inspection that  qualifies  as  an
    47  alternative  inspection  method  pursuant  to  subdivision  five of this
    48  section, a housing access  voucher  local  administrator  may  authorize
    49  occupancy  before the inspection under paragraph (a) of this subdivision
    50  has been completed, and may make assistance payments retroactive to  the
    51  beginning  of the lease term after the unit has been determined pursuant
    52  to an inspection under paragraph (a) of this  subdivision  to  meet  the
    53  housing  quality  standards  under subdivision two of this section. This
    54  paragraph may not be construed to exempt any dwelling unit from  compli-
    55  ance with the requirements of subdivision four of this section.

        A. 3701--B                          9
     1    2. The housing quality standards under this subdivision shall be stan-
     2  dards for safe and habitable housing established:
     3    (a) by the commissioner for purposes of this subdivision; or
     4    (b)  by  local housing codes or by codes adopted by the housing access
     5  voucher local administrator that:
     6    (i) meet or exceed housing quality standards, except that the  commis-
     7  sioner may waive the requirement under this subparagraph to significant-
     8  ly  increase access to affordable housing and to expand housing opportu-
     9  nities for families assisted  under  this  article,  except  where  such
    10  waiver  could adversely affect the health or safety of families assisted
    11  under this article; and
    12    (ii) do not severely restrict housing choice.
    13    3. The determination required under subdivision one  of  this  section
    14  shall  be  made  by  the  housing access voucher local administrator (or
    15  other entity, as provided in section six hundred twelve of this article)
    16  pursuant to an inspection of the  dwelling  unit  conducted  before  any
    17  assistance  payment  is made for the unit. Inspections of dwelling units
    18  under this subdivision shall  be  made  before  the  expiration  of  the
    19  fifteen  day period beginning upon a request by the resident or landlord
    20  to the housing access voucher local administrator or, in the case of any
    21  housing access voucher  local  administrator  that  provides  assistance
    22  under this article on behalf of more than one thousand two hundred fifty
    23  families,  before  the  expiration of a reasonable period beginning upon
    24  such request. The performance of the housing access voucher local admin-
    25  istrator in meeting the fifteen day inspection deadline shall  be  taken
    26  into  consideration  in  assessing the performance of the housing access
    27  voucher local administrator.
    28    4. (a) Each  housing  access  voucher  local  administrator  providing
    29  assistance  under  this article (or other entity, as provided in section
    30  six hundred twelve of this article) shall, for  each  assisted  dwelling
    31  unit,  make  inspections not less often than annually during the term of
    32  the housing assistance payments  contract  for  the  unit  to  determine
    33  whether the unit is maintained in accordance with the requirements under
    34  subdivision one of this section.
    35    (b)  The  requirements  under paragraph (a) of this subdivision may be
    36  complied with by use of  inspections  that  qualify  as  an  alternative
    37  inspection method pursuant to subdivision five of this section.
    38    (c)  The  housing access voucher local administrator (or other entity)
    39  shall retain the records of the inspection for  a  reasonable  time,  as
    40  determined by the commissioner.
    41    5.  An  inspection  of  a  property  shall  qualify  as an alternative
    42  inspection method for purposes of this subdivision if:
    43    (a) the inspection was conducted  pursuant  to  requirements  under  a
    44  federal, state, or local housing program; and
    45    (b)  pursuant  to such inspection, the property was determined to meet
    46  the standards or requirements regarding housing quality or safety appli-
    47  cable to properties assisted under such program,  and,  if  a  non-state
    48  standard  or  requirement  was  used,  the  housing access voucher local
    49  administrator has certified to the commissioner that  such  standard  or
    50  requirement  provides  the  same (or greater) protection to occupants of
    51  dwelling units meeting such standard or requirement as would the housing
    52  quality standards under subdivision two of this section.
    53    6. Upon notification to the housing access voucher  local  administra-
    54  tor,  by  an  individual  or family (on whose behalf tenant-based rental
    55  assistance is provided under this article) or by a government  official,
    56  that  the  dwelling  unit for which such assistance is provided does not

        A. 3701--B                         10
     1  comply with the housing quality standards under subdivision two of  this
     2  section,  the  housing  access voucher local administrator shall inspect
     3  the dwelling unit:
     4    (a)  in  the  case  of  any condition that is life-threatening, within
     5  twenty-four hours after the housing access voucher local administrator's
     6  receipt of such notification,  unless  waived  by  the  commissioner  in
     7  extraordinary circumstances; and
     8    (b)  in the case of any condition that is not life-threatening, within
     9  a reasonable time frame, as determined by the commissioner.
    10    In conducting such an inspection, the  housing  access  voucher  local
    11  administrator may, at its discretion, require evidence from the owner of
    12  the  physical  condition of a unit, including, but not limited to photo-
    13  graphs, signed work orders, and contractor bills in lieu of the  housing
    14  access voucher local administrator conducting a physical inspection.
    15    7. The commissioner shall establish procedural guidelines and perform-
    16  ance  standards  to facilitate inspections of dwelling units and conform
    17  such inspections with practices utilized in the private housing  market.
    18  Such  guidelines  and standards shall take into consideration variations
    19  in local laws and practices and shall provide flexibility to the housing
    20  access voucher local administrator appropriate to  facilitate  efficient
    21  provision of assistance under this section.
    22    § 610. Rent.  1.  The  rent  for  dwelling  units  for which a housing
    23  assistance payment contract is established under this article  shall  be
    24  reasonable  in  comparison  with  rents  charged for comparable dwelling
    25  units in the private, unassisted local market.
    26    2. A housing access voucher local administrator (or other  entity,  as
    27  provided  in  section  six hundred twelve of this article) shall, at the
    28  request of an individual or  family  receiving  tenant-based  assistance
    29  under  this  article,  assist that individual or family in negotiating a
    30  reasonable rent with a dwelling unit owner.  A  housing  access  voucher
    31  local  administrator  (or other such entity) shall review the rent for a
    32  unit under consideration by the  individual  or  family  (and  all  rent
    33  increases  for  units under lease by the individual or family) to deter-
    34  mine whether the rent (or rent  increase)  requested  by  the  owner  is
    35  reasonable.  If  a  housing access voucher local administrator (or other
    36  such entity) determines that the rent (or rent increase) for a  dwelling
    37  unit  is  not reasonable, the housing access voucher local administrator
    38  (or other such entity) shall not make housing assistance payments to the
    39  owner under this subdivision with respect to that unit.
    40    3. If a dwelling unit for which a housing assistance payment  contract
    41  is  established  under  this  article  is exempt from local rent control
    42  provisions during the term of that contract,  the  rent  for  that  unit
    43  shall  be  reasonable  in comparison with other units in the rental area
    44  that are exempt from local rent control provisions.
    45    4. Each housing access voucher local administrator shall  make  timely
    46  payment  of any amounts due to a dwelling unit owner under this section,
    47  subject to appropriation of funds for this purpose. The housing  assist-
    48  ance  payment  contract between the owner and the housing access voucher
    49  local administrator may provide for penalties for the  late  payment  of
    50  amounts  due  under  the contract, which shall be imposed on the housing
    51  access voucher local administrator in accordance with generally accepted
    52  practices in the local housing market.
    53    5. Unless otherwise  authorized  by  the  commissioner,  each  housing
    54  access voucher local administrator shall pay any penalties from adminis-
    55  trative  fees  collected by the housing access voucher local administra-
    56  tor, except that no penalty shall be imposed if the late payment is  due

        A. 3701--B                         11
     1  to  factors  that  the commissioner determines are beyond the control of
     2  the housing access voucher local administrator.
     3    § 611. Vacated  units.  If  an assisted family vacates a dwelling unit
     4  for which rental assistance  is  provided  under  a  housing  assistance
     5  payment  contract before the expiration of the term of the lease for the
     6  unit, rental assistance pursuant to such contract may  not  be  provided
     7  for the unit after the month during which the unit was vacated.
     8    § 612. Leasing of units owned by a housing access voucher local admin-
     9  istrator.  1.  If  an  eligible individual or family assisted under this
    10  article leases a dwelling unit (other than  a  public  housing  dwelling
    11  unit)  that  is  owned  by  a housing access voucher local administrator
    12  administering  assistance  to  that  individual  or  family  under  this
    13  section,  the  commissioner  shall  require  the  unit  of general local
    14  government or another entity  approved  by  the  commissioner,  to  make
    15  inspections  required under section six hundred nine of this article and
    16  rent determinations required under section six hundred ten of this arti-
    17  cle. The housing access voucher local administrator shall be responsible
    18  for any expenses of such inspections and determinations, subject to  the
    19  appropriation of funds for this purpose.
    20    2.  For  purposes of this section, the term "owned by a housing access
    21  voucher local administrator" means, with respect  to  a  dwelling  unit,
    22  that the dwelling unit is in a project that is owned by such administra-
    23  tor,  by  an  entity  wholly  controlled  by such administrator, or by a
    24  limited liability company or limited partnership in which such  adminis-
    25  trator  (or  an  entity wholly controlled by such administrator) holds a
    26  controlling interest in the managing member or general partner. A dwell-
    27  ing unit shall not be deemed to be owned by  a  housing  access  voucher
    28  local  administrator  for purposes of this section because such adminis-
    29  trator holds a fee interest as ground lessor in the  property  on  which
    30  the unit is situated, holds a security interest under a mortgage or deed
    31  of  trust  on the unit, or holds a non-controlling interest in an entity
    32  which owns the unit or in the managing member or general partner  of  an
    33  entity which owns the unit.
    34    § 613. Verification of income. The commissioner shall establish proce-
    35  dures  which  are  appropriate  and necessary to assure that income data
    36  provided to the housing access voucher local administrator and owners by
    37  individuals and families applying for or receiving assistance under this
    38  article is complete and accurate. In establishing such  procedures,  the
    39  commissioner shall randomly, regularly, and periodically select a sample
    40  of families to authorize the commissioner to obtain information on these
    41  families for the purpose of income verification, or to allow those fami-
    42  lies  to  provide  such  information  themselves.  Such  information may
    43  include, but is not limited to,  data  concerning  unemployment  compen-
    44  sation  and  federal  income taxation and data relating to benefits made
    45  available under the social security act, 42 U.S.C. 301 et seq., the food
    46  and nutrition act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. 2011 et seq., or  title  38  of  the
    47  United  State  Code.  Any  such  information  received  pursuant to this
    48  section shall remain confidential and shall be used only for the purpose
    49  of verifying incomes in order to determine  eligibility  of  individuals
    50  and  families  for  benefits  (and  the amount of such benefits, if any)
    51  under this article.
    52    § 614. Division of an assisted family. 1. In those instances  where  a
    53  family  assisted  under  this article becomes divided into two otherwise
    54  eligible individuals or families due to divorce, legal separation or the
    55  division of the family, where the new units cannot agree as to which new
    56  unit should continue to receive the assistance, and where  there  is  no

        A. 3701--B                         12
     1  determination  by  a  court, the public housing authority shall consider
     2  the following factors to determine which of the individuals or  families
     3  will continue to be assisted:
     4    (a) which of the new units has custody of dependent children;
     5    (b) which family member was the head of household when the voucher was
     6  initially issued as listed on the initial application;
     7    (c)  the  composition of the new units and which unit includes elderly
     8  or disabled members;
     9    (d) whether domestic violence was involved in the breakup of the fami-
    10  ly unit;
    11    (e) which family members remain in the unit; and
    12    (f) recommendations of social service professionals.
    13    2. Documentation of these factors will be the  responsibility  of  the
    14  requesting parties. If documentation is not provided, the housing access
    15  voucher  local  administrator  will terminate assistance on the basis of
    16  failure to provide information necessary for a recertification.
    17    § 615. Maintenance of effort. Any funds  made  available  pursuant  to
    18  this  article  shall not be used to offset or reduce the amount of funds
    19  previously expended for the same or similar programs in a prior year  in
    20  any  county  or in the city of New York, but shall be used to supplement
    21  any prior year's expenditures. The commissioner may grant  an  exception
    22  to  this  requirement if any county, municipality, or other governmental
    23  entity or public body can affirmatively show that such amount  of  funds
    24  previously  expended  is  in  excess  of the amount necessary to provide
    25  assistance to all individuals and families within the area in which  the
    26  funds  were  previously  expended who are homeless or facing an imminent
    27  loss of housing.
    28    § 616. Vouchers statewide. Notwithstanding section six hundred six  of
    29  this  article,  any  voucher issued pursuant to this article may be used
    30  for housing anywhere in the state. The commissioner shall inform voucher
    31  holders that a voucher may be used anywhere in the  state  and,  to  the
    32  extent  practicable,  the  commissioner  shall assist voucher holders in
    33  finding housing in the area of their choice.
    34    § 617. Applicable codes. Housing eligible  for  participation  in  the
    35  housing  access  voucher  program shall comply with applicable state and
    36  local health, housing, building and safety codes.
    37    § 618. Housing choice. 1. The commissioner shall administer the  hous-
    38  ing  access voucher program under this article to promote housing choice
    39  for voucher holders. The commissioner shall affirmatively  promote  fair
    40  housing to the extent possible under this program.
    41    2.  Nothing  in  this article shall lessen or abridge any fair housing
    42  obligations promulgated by  municipalities,  localities,  or  any  other
    43  applicable jurisdiction.
    44    §  2. This act shall take effect on the first of April next succeeding
    45  the date on which it shall have become a law. Effective immediately, the
    46  addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule  or  regulation  necessary
    47  for  the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized
    48  to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
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