Bill Text: NY A03918 | 2021-2022 | General Assembly | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Establishes a COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program; implements a program of rental and utility payment assistance to eligible households; defines terms.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 30-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-02-10 - print number 3918a [A03918 Detail]

Download: New_York-2021-A03918-Introduced.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK


                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions

                   IN ASSEMBLY

                                    January 28, 2021

        Introduced  by  M.  of  A. CYMBROWITZ, FAHY, O'DONNELL, TAYLOR, CARROLL,
          STEIN, CAHILL, MAGNARELLI, BRONSON -- read once and  referred  to  the
          Committee on Housing

        AN  ACT  to  amend the public housing law, in relation to establishing a
          COVID-19 emergency rental assistance 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 XIV
     5  Section 600. Legislative findings.
     6          601. Definitions.
     7          602. Authority to implement emergency rental assistance.
     8          603. Eligibility.
     9          604. Payment of emergency vouchers.
    10          605. Rental obligation.
    11          606. Assistance payment.
    12          607. Verification of income and assets.
    13          608. Housing assistance payment contracts for units newly rented
    14                 for homeless individuals and families.
    15          609. Inspection of units newly rented for  homeless  individuals
    16                 and families.
    17          610. Housing obligations.
    18          611. Reports by the commissioner.
    19    §  600.  Legislative findings. The legislature finds that it is in the
    20  public interest to ensure that New Yorkers are not rendered homeless  or
    21  severely financially burdened because of an inability to pay the cost of
    22  housing and other necessities due to loss of income related to the wide-

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 3918                             2

     1  spread  outbreak  of  the  coronavirus commonly known as COVID-19.   The
     2  legislature further finds that the outbreak of COVID-19 has  exacerbated
     3  the health risks associated with being homeless and that there is a need
     4  for increased funding to provide permanent housing for homeless individ-
     5  uals  and  families as an essential part of the state's efforts to miti-
     6  gate the threat of COVID-19 to public health.   The legislature  further
     7  finds that providing funding for individuals, families and households to
     8  pay  rent  that they would otherwise have difficulty paying will promote
     9  the stability and proper maintenance of the  housing  stock  and  assist
    10  communities  in  recovering from the adverse social and economic effects
    11  of the COVID-19 outbreak.
    12    § 601. Definitions. For the purposes of this article:
    13    1. "Adjusted income" shall mean income minus any deductions  allowable
    14  at the discretion of the commissioner pursuant to this section.
    15    (a) The calculation of income performed at the time of application for
    16  such  assistance  shall consider only income that the individual, family
    17  or household is currently receiving at such time and any income recently
    18  terminated  shall  not  be  included;  (b)  the  calculation  of  income
    19  performed  with respect to individuals, families or households receiving
    20  ongoing assistance three months  after  initial  receipt  of  assistance
    21  shall  consider  only  the income that the household is receiving at the
    22  time of such review; and (c) the calculation of  income  performed  with
    23  respect  to individuals, families or households receiving assistance for
    24  arrearages shall consider only the income that the individual, family or
    25  household was receiving at the time such arrearages were incurred.
    26    2. "At risk of homelessness" shall mean, with respect to  an  individ-
    27  ual, family, or household, that the individual, family, or household (a)
    28  has  an income below one hundred twenty percent of the median income for
    29  the area as determined by the United States  secretary  of  housing  and
    30  urban development; and
    31    (b)  has  an  inability to attain or maintain housing stability or has
    32  insufficient resources to pay for rent or  utilities  due  to  financial
    33  hardships.
    34    3. "Covered period" means March seventh, two thousand twenty until the
    35  date on which none of the provisions that closed or otherwise restricted
    36  public  or  private  businesses  or  places  of public accommodation, or
    37  required postponement or cancellation of all non-essential gatherings of
    38  individuals of any size for any reason in executive order numbers 202.3,
    39  202.4,  202.5, 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, 202.11, 202.13 or 202.14  of
    40  two  thousand  twenty, as extended by executive order numbers 202.28 and
    41  202.31 and as further extended by executive order number 202.79 and  any
    42  future  executive  order,  issued  in  response to the COVID-19 pandemic
    43  continue to apply in the county of the  individual,  family,  or  house-
    44  hold's residence.
    45    4.  "Fair market rent" shall mean the fair market rent for each rental
    46  area as promulgated annually by the United States department of  housing
    47  and urban development's office of policy development and research pursu-
    48  ant to 42 USC 1437f.
    49    5.  (a)  "Family"  shall  mean  a  group of persons living in the same
    50  household who:
    51    (i) are related by birth, marriage, or adoption. This group  includes,
    52  but  is not limited to a family with or without children (a child who is
    53  temporarily away from the home because of placement in  foster  care  is
    54  considered  a  member  of the family), an elderly family, a near-elderly
    55  family, a disabled family, a displaced family, or the  remaining  member
    56  of a tenant family; or

        A. 3918                             3

     1    (ii)  are  two  or  more  individuals  who  are  not related by blood,
     2  marriage, adoption, or other operation of law, but who  can  demonstrate
     3  that  they have lived together previously and certify that each individ-
     4  ual's income and other resources will be available to meet the needs  of
     5  the family.
     6    (b)  Each  family shall identify the individuals to be included in the
     7  family at the time of application, and shall update this information  if
     8  the family's composition changes.
     9    (c)  The  commissioner  shall  have the discretion to determine if any
    10  other group of persons qualifies as a family.
    11    6. (a) "Homeless" shall mean:
    12    (i) an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular,  and  adequate
    13  nighttime residence;
    14    (ii)  an  individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that
    15  is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily  used  as  a
    16  regular  sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park,
    17  abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;
    18    (iii) an individual or family  living  in  a  supervised  publicly  or
    19  privately  operated  shelter  designated  to  provide  temporary  living
    20  arrangements, including hotels and motels paid for by Federal, State, or
    21  local government programs for low-income individuals  or  by  charitable
    22  organizations, congregate shelters, and transitional housing;
    23    (iv)  an  individual  who  resided in a shelter or place not meant for
    24  human habitation and who is exiting  an  institution  where  he  or  she
    25  temporarily resided;
    26    (v) an individual or family who:
    27    (1)  will  imminently  lose their housing, including housing they own,
    28  rent, or live in without paying rent, are sharing with others, and rooms
    29  in hotels or motels not paid for by Federal, State, or local  government
    30  programs  for  low-income individuals or by charitable organizations, as
    31  evidenced by:
    32    (A) a court order resulting from an eviction action that notifies  the
    33  individual or family that they must leave within fourteen days;
    34    (B) the individual or family having a primary nighttime residence that
    35  is  a  room in a hotel or motel and where they lack the resources neces-
    36  sary to reside there for more than fourteen days; or
    37    (C) credible evidence indicating that the owner or renter of the hous-
    38  ing will not allow the individual or family to stay for more than  four-
    39  teen  days,  and any oral statement from an individual or family seeking
    40  homeless assistance that is found to be  credible  shall  be  considered
    41  credible evidence for purposes of this clause;
    42    (2) has no subsequent residence identified; and
    43    (3)  lacks  the  resources  or support networks needed to obtain other
    44  permanent housing; and
    45    (vi) unaccompanied youth and homeless families with children and youth
    46  defined as homeless under other Federal statutes who:
    47    (1) have experienced a long term period without  living  independently
    48  in permanent housing;
    49    (2)  have  experienced  persistent instability as measured by frequent
    50  moves over such period; and
    51    (3) can be expected to continue in such status for an extended  period
    52  of  time  because  of  chronic  disabilities, chronic physical health or
    53  mental health conditions, substance  addiction,  histories  of  domestic
    54  violence  or  childhood  abuse,  the presence of a child or youth with a
    55  disability, or multiple barriers to employment.

        A. 3918                             4

     1    (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section,  the  commis-
     2  sioner  shall  consider  to  be homeless any individual or family who is
     3  fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence,  dating  violence,
     4  sexual  assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening condi-
     5  tions in the individual's or family's current housing situation, includ-
     6  ing  where  the  health  and safety of children are jeopardized, and who
     7  have no other residence and lack the resources or  support  networks  to
     8  obtain other permanent housing.
     9    7.  "Income"  shall mean income from all sources of each member of the
    10  family or household,  including  all  wages,  tips,  over-time,  salary,
    11  recurring  gifts,  returns  on  investments,  welfare assistance, social
    12  security payments, child support payments,  unemployment  benefits,  any
    13  benefit,  payment  or  cash grant whose purpose is to assist with rental
    14  payments, any payments whose purpose is to replace lost income, and  any
    15  other  government  benefit  or  cash  grant. The term "income" shall not
    16  include:  employment income from children under eighteen years  of  age,
    17  employment  income  from children eighteen years of age or older who are
    18  full-time students, foster  care  payments,  sporadic  gifts,  groceries
    19  provided  by persons not living in the household, supplemental nutrition
    20  assistance program benefits, earned  income  disregard,  or  the  earned
    21  income tax credit.
    22    8.  "Manufactured  home tenant" shall have the same meaning as defined
    23  by section two hundred thirty-three of the real property law.
    24    9. "Occupant" shall have the same meaning as defined  in  section  two
    25  hundred thirty-five-f of the real property law.
    26    10.  "Public  housing  agency" shall mean any county, municipality, or
    27  other governmental entity or public body that is authorized to  adminis-
    28  ter  any public housing program, or an agency or instrumentality of such
    29  an entity, and any other public or private non-profit entity that admin-
    30  isters any other public housing program or assistance.
    31    11. "Rent" shall mean rent as defined by section seven hundred two  of
    32  the real property actions and proceedings law and subject to proceedings
    33  under  article  seven  of the real property actions and proceedings law,
    34  including statutory rents  and  maintenance  fees  paid  pursuant  to  a
    35  proprietary lease on a co-operative dwelling unit.
    36    §  602.  Authority  to  implement  emergency rental assistance. 1. The
    37  commissioner, as soon as practicable and subject to the appropriation of
    38  funds for this purpose, shall implement a program of  rental  assistance
    39  in the form of emergency vouchers for those eligible pursuant to section
    40  six  hundred  three  of this article.  The commissioner may delegate the
    41  administration of portions of this program to any state  agency,  public
    42  housing  agency,  city,  county,  town,  or  non-profit  organization in
    43  accordance with the provisions of this article. The  commissioner  shall
    44  delegate  the administration of this program for the city of New York to
    45  a public housing agency or agencies operating solely in the city of  New
    46  York.  Any  state  agency, public housing agency, city, county, town, or
    47  non-profit organization  delegated  to  administer  this  program  shall
    48  receive  an administrative fee to cover the costs of administration. The
    49  commissioner may provide technical or administrative support  to  assist
    50  any state agency, public housing agency, city, county, town, or non-pro-
    51  fit  organization  to provide emergency rental assistance related to the
    52  outbreak of COVID-19 with funding allocated by the federal government to
    53  such public housing agency, city, county, or town, or non-profit  organ-
    54  ization.
    55    2.  Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1621(d), any individual, family, or household
    56  who would be eligible but for 8 U.S.C. 1621(a) for state or local  bene-

        A. 3918                             5

     1  fits for emergency rental assistance shall be eligible for such benefits
     2  during  the  covered period, and for a period of up to two years if such
     3  individual, family, or household becomes eligible for such benefits  due
     4  to homelessness.
     5    §  603.  Eligibility.  The commissioner shall promulgate standards for
     6  determining eligibility for this program.
     7    1. An individual, family or  household  shall  be  eligible  for  this
     8  program if:
     9    (a)  the  individual,  family, or household is a tenant or occupant in
    10  their primary residence in the state of New York, including both tenants
    11  and occupants of  dwelling  units  and  manufactured  home  tenants  and
    12  proprietary  leaseholders  of co-operative dwelling units, their monthly
    13  rent obligation is greater than thirty percent of their current  monthly
    14  adjusted  income, their current monthly adjusted income is less than one
    15  hundred twenty percent of the area median income as adjusted for  family
    16  size, and during the covered period:
    17    (i) the individual, family, or household suffered a financial hardship
    18  due  to  loss  of  income,  as  determined in a manner prescribed by the
    19  commissioner  in  consultation  with  the  department  of  taxation  and
    20  finance;  or
    21    (ii)  an  individual or member of the family or household became unem-
    22  ployed, and qualified for unemployment;
    23    (b) the individual, family, or household is at  risk  of  homelessness
    24  during  the covered period or within ninety days after the covered peri-
    25  od; or
    26    (c) the individual,  family,  or  household  is  homeless  during  the
    27  covered period or within ninety days after the covered period.
    28    2.  In addition to the eligibility criteria in subdivision one of this
    29  section, the commissioner may promulgate limits on assets as part of any
    30  determination of eligibility for this program.
    31    3. An individual or family in receipt of rental assistance under  this
    32  program shall no longer be financially eligible for assistance when:
    33    (a)  the individual's, family's or household's monthly income has been
    34  restored to an amount equal to or greater than the  individual's,  fami-
    35  ly's  or household's income prior to the loss referenced in subparagraph
    36  (i) of paragraph (a) of subdivision one of this section;
    37    (b) the individual's, family's, or household's monthly rent obligation
    38  is no longer greater than  thirty  percent  of  their  monthly  adjusted
    39  income;
    40    (c)  the  individual, family, or household has received rental assist-
    41  ance for the greater of six months or the duration of the covered  peri-
    42  od.    However,  those  individuals,  families or households who receive
    43  assistance pursuant to paragraph (c) of subdivision one of this  section
    44  shall  be  eligible until they have received two years of rental assist-
    45  ance.
    46    4. Any individual, family or household in receipt of rental assistance
    47  under this program shall be obligated  to  report  all  changes  of  ten
    48  percent  or  more  of  their  monthly  income while participating in the
    49  program in order to maintain eligibility.
    50    5. The commissioner shall establish preferences prioritizing  individ-
    51  uals,  families or households with the greatest economic and social need
    52  in processing applications for  this  program.  Such  preferences  shall
    53  account for at a minimum:
    54    (a) the historical income level of the individual, family or household
    55  as it relates to the area median income;

        A. 3918                             6

     1    (b)  the  current adjusted income of the individual, family, or house-
     2  hold as it relates to the area median income;
     3    (c) the rent burden of the individual, family or household;
     4    (d)  the percentage of income lost by the individual, family or house-
     5  hold;
     6    (e) the individual or a member of the family or household's status  as
     7  a victim of domestic violence; and
     8    (f)  whether  the  individual,  family or household was homeless or at
     9  risk of homelessness during the covered period  or  within  ninety  days
    10  after the covered period.
    11    6.  The  commissioner  shall  promulgate standards by which any entity
    12  designated to administer this program pursuant  to  subdivision  one  of
    13  section six hundred two of this article shall issue a preliminary deter-
    14  mination  of  eligibility upon initial receipt of the application, if it
    15  is practicable to do so without unduly impeding  implementation  of  the
    16  program.  Any such preliminary determination shall not be binding on the
    17  commissioner or any entity designated to  administer  this  program  and
    18  shall  not  excuse  any existing statutory or contractual obligations of
    19  the landlord or the applicant individual, family, or household.
    20    7. Eviction proceedings for rental arrears that would be eligible  for
    21  coverage  under  this program cannot be commenced against an individual,
    22  family or household who has applied for this program unless or  until  a
    23  determination  of  ineligibility  is  made.  If eviction proceedings are
    24  commenced against an individual, family or  household  who  subsequently
    25  applies for benefits under this program, all proceedings for missed rent
    26  payments during the covered period shall be stayed until a determination
    27  of ineligibility has been made.
    28    8.  Any  ambiguity  in eligibility criteria promulgated by the commis-
    29  sioner shall be resolved in favor  of  the  applicant  when  determining
    30  eligibility.
    31    9.  Any information collected about an individual, family or household
    32  in the process of determining eligibility shall solely be used  for  the
    33  purposes  of  determining  eligibility  and shall not be shared with any
    34  other governmental agency.
    35    10. An individual, family or household shall not be eligible for  this
    36  program  if  they  live  in housing owned or managed by a public housing
    37  authority or receive rental assistance from a  program  in  which  their
    38  rental  obligation  is  adjusted to be no greater than thirty percent of
    39  their income when their income decreases.
    40    11. An individual full-time college student  or  family  or  household
    41  consisting  exclusively  of full-time college students is ineligible for
    42  this program unless each individual in the family or household satisfies
    43  the following conditions:
    44    (a) the individual shall have established a  household  separate  from
    45  his  or  her  parents  or legal guardians for at least one year prior to
    46  application for admission or shall meet the United States department  of
    47  education's definition of independent student; and
    48    (b)  the  individual shall not be claimed as a dependent by his or her
    49  parents or legal guardians pursuant to internal  revenue  service  (IRS)
    50  regulations.
    51    12.  Applicants shall not be expected or required to repay any assist-
    52  ance granted through this program  unless  otherwise  required  by  law.
    53  Assistance  shall  not be considered income for purposes of public bene-
    54  fits or other public assistance. There shall be no requirement on appli-
    55  cants to  seek  assistance  from  other  sources,  including  charitable
    56  contributions, for eligibility.

        A. 3918                             7

     1    §  604.  Payment of emergency vouchers. 1. The emergency voucher shall
     2  be paid directly to the owner of the dwelling unit or manufactured  home
     3  park  occupied  by  the  voucher recipient for rent due from the voucher
     4  recipient and any rental arrears owed that were not paid for  which  the
     5  recipient  would  otherwise  have  been eligible pursuant to section six
     6  hundred three of this article.  Any arrears payment shall  be  equal  to
     7  the  amount  for  which the recipient would have been eligible as deter-
     8  mined by section six hundred six of this article.
     9    2. Acceptance of vouchers as payment for rent due  or  rental  arrears
    10  shall constitute agreement by the recipient:
    11    (a) to waive any late fees due on any rental arrears;
    12    (b)  to  keep constant the monthly rent due for the dwelling unit such
    13  that it shall remain the amount that was due at the time of  application
    14  to  the program for any and all months for which the voucher is accepted
    15  as payment; and
    16    (c) at the option of the tenant, to extend any lease or rental  agree-
    17  ment  for  the  use  and  occupancy of the applicable dwelling unit that
    18  expired or is due to expire during the  covered  period  or  sixty  days
    19  following  the expiration of the covered period to a date at least sixty
    20  days from the expiration of the covered period under the  terms  of  the
    21  lease  or rental agreement existing prior to the expiration of the lease
    22  or rental agreement. Where the dwelling unit that is the subject of  the
    23  lease or rental agreement contains four or fewer units, the landlord may
    24  decline  to extend the lease or tenancy if the landlord intends to imme-
    25  diately occupy the unit for the landlord's personal use or the use of an
    26  immediate family member as a primary residence.
    27    § 605. Rental obligation. 1.  The monthly rental  obligation  of  each
    28  recipient  shall be thirty percent of the monthly adjusted income of the
    29  individual, family, or household.
    30    2. If an individual, family or household shares a dwelling or manufac-
    31  tured home with one or more individuals who are not part of their family
    32  or household, the monthly rental obligation of the individual, family or
    33  household shall be calculated using the portion of the individual, fami-
    34  ly's or household's rent for which they are responsible rather than  the
    35  entire rent for the shared dwelling unit or manufactured home.
    36    § 606. Assistance payment. 1. The amount of the monthly rental assist-
    37  ance  payment  with  respect  to  any dwelling unit or manufactured home
    38  shall be the difference between the  monthly  contractual  or  statutory
    39  rent  for  the  unit  or  home and and thirty percent of the individual,
    40  family or household's adjusted income.
    41    2.   Notwithstanding subdivision one  of  this  section,  the  maximum
    42  monthly assistance payment for the individual, family or household shall
    43  be  the  difference between the rental obligation established in section
    44  six hundred five of this article, up to two hundred fifty percent of the
    45  fair  market  rent  for  the  rental  area  or  in  accordance  to   any
    46  restrictions that may apply to funding provided for this purpose.
    47    3.  In  addition  to  any rental assistance payments, the commissioner
    48  shall also authorize the full payment of  utilities  for  any  recipient
    49  individual,  family  or  household  for the time period during which the
    50  individual, family or household qualifies for rental assistance pursuant
    51  to section six hundred three of this article. Any such payments shall be
    52  paid directly to the  utility  provider.    For  the  purposes  of  this
    53  section,  utility  payments shall encompass all payments the individual,
    54  family or household is obligated to  pay  for  gas,  electricity,  heat,
    55  water, sewer, and solid waste disposal services.

        A. 3918                             8

     1    §  607.  Verification  of  income  and  assets. The commissioner shall
     2  establish procedures that are appropriate and necessary to  assure  that
     3  information  regarding  income,  and  assets  to the extent necessary to
     4  determine eligibility, provided by individuals, families and households,
     5  applying  for or receiving assistance under this article is complete and
     6  accurate.  Verification may include without limitation: paycheck  stubs,
     7  earning  statements,  tax  records, W-2 forms, written statements from a
     8  former or current employer, telephone or in-person contact with a former
     9  or current employer, statements or affidavits signed by  the  applicant,
    10  or other methods approved by the commissioner.
    11    § 608. Housing assistance payment contracts for units newly rented for
    12  homeless  individuals  and  families.  1.  A  housing assistance payment
    13  contract shall be entered into between the relevant agency administering
    14  this program and the owner of a dwelling unit when the voucher recipient
    15  qualified for the program by  being  homeless.  The  housing  assistance
    16  payment  contract  entered into pursuant to this section shall establish
    17  the maximum monthly rent (including utilities and  all  maintenance  and
    18  management  charges)  the owner is entitled to receive for each dwelling
    19  unit with respect to which such assistance payments are to be made. Each
    20  housing assistance payment contract entered into by the agency  adminis-
    21  tering this program and the owner of a dwelling unit shall provide:
    22    (a)  that  the  lease  between the tenant and the owner shall be for a
    23  term of not less than one year;
    24    (b) that the  dwelling  unit  owner  shall  offer  leases  to  tenants
    25  assisted under this article that:
    26    (i)  are  in a standard form used in the locality by the dwelling unit
    27  owner; and
    28    (ii) contain terms and conditions that:
    29    (A) are consistent with federal, state, and local law; and
    30    (B) apply generally to tenants in the property who  are  not  assisted
    31  under this article;
    32    (iii) shall provide that during the term of the lease, the owner shall
    33  not  terminate  the  tenancy except for serious or repeated violation of
    34  the terms and conditions of the lease, for violation of applicable state
    35  or local law, or for other good cause; and
    36    (iv) shall provide that any termination of tenancy under this  section
    37  shall be preceded by the provision of written notice by the owner to the
    38  tenant  specifying  the grounds for that action, and any relief shall be
    39  consistent with applicable state and local law; and
    40    (c) that any unit under an assistance contract originated  under  this
    41  article shall only be occupied by the individual or family designated in
    42  said contract and shall be the designated individual or family's primary
    43  residence.  Contracts  shall not be transferable between units and shall
    44  not be transferable between recipients.  An  individual  or  family  may
    45  transfer their voucher to a different unit under a new contract pursuant
    46  to this article.
    47    2. (a) For the homeless, the rent for dwelling units for which a hous-
    48  ing  assistance  payment  contract is established under this subdivision
    49  shall be reasonable in comparison  with  rents  charged  for  comparable
    50  dwelling units in the private, unassisted local market.
    51    (b)  An  agency administering this program shall, at the request of an
    52  individual or family receiving tenant-based assistance under this subdi-
    53  vision, assist that individual or family  in  negotiating  a  reasonable
    54  rent  with  a dwelling unit owner. "Reasonable rent" shall mean rent not
    55  more than the rent charged on comparable units in the private unassisted
    56  market and rent charged for comparable unassisted units in the premises.

        A. 3918                             9

     1  Such agency shall review the rent for a unit under consideration by  the
     2  individual  or  family  (and all rent increases for units under lease by
     3  such individual or family)  to  determine  whether  the  rent  (or  rent
     4  increase) requested by the owner is reasonable. If an agency administer-
     5  ing  this  program  determines  that  the  rent (or rent increase) for a
     6  dwelling unit is not reasonable,  the  agency  shall  not  make  housing
     7  assistance  payments to the owner under this subdivision with respect to
     8  that unit.
     9    (c) Each agency administering this program shall make  timely  payment
    10  of  any amounts due to a dwelling unit owner under this subdivision. The
    11  housing assistance payment contract between the  owner  and  the  agency
    12  administering  this  program  may  provide  for  penalties  for the late
    13  payment of amounts due under the contract, which shall be imposed on the
    14  agency in accordance with generally  accepted  practices  in  the  local
    15  housing market.
    16    3.  If  an  assisted  individual or family vacates a dwelling unit for
    17  which rental assistance is provided under a housing  assistance  payment
    18  contract  before  the  expiration of the term of the lease for the unit,
    19  rental assistance pursuant to such contract may not be provided for  the
    20  unit after the month during which the unit was vacated.
    21    4. Any voucher issued pursuant to this section for a homeless individ-
    22  ual  or  family may be used for housing anywhere in the state. The rele-
    23  vant agency administering this program shall inform voucher holders that
    24  a voucher may be used anywhere in the state and, to the extent practica-
    25  ble, shall assist voucher holders in finding  housing  in  the  area  of
    26  their choice.
    27    §  609.  Inspection of units newly rented for homeless individuals and
    28  families. 1. Initial inspection. (a) In general. For each dwelling  unit
    29  for  which  a  housing  assistance  payment contract is established, the
    30  agency administering this program shall  inspect  the  unit  before  any
    31  assistance  payment is made to determine whether the dwelling unit meets
    32  the housing quality standards under subdivision  two  of  this  section,
    33  except as provided in paragraphs (b) or (c) of this subdivision.  Howev-
    34  er, the commissioner may waive this inspection requirement to the extent
    35  necessary  to  protect  public health or expedite implementation of this
    36  program.
    37    (b) Correction of non-life-threatening conditions. In the case of  any
    38  dwelling  unit that is determined, pursuant to an inspection under para-
    39  graph (a) of this subdivision, not to meet the housing quality standards
    40  under subdivision two of this section, assistance payments may  be  made
    41  for  the  unit,  notwithstanding  subdivision  three of this section, if
    42  failure to meet such standards is a result only of  non-life-threatening
    43  conditions,  as  such conditions are established by the commissioner. An
    44  agency making assistance payments  pursuant  to  this  paragraph  for  a
    45  dwelling  unit  shall, thirty days after the beginning of the period for
    46  which such payments are made, withhold any assistance payments  for  the
    47  unit if any deficiency resulting in noncompliance with the housing qual-
    48  ity  standards  has  not  been  corrected by such time. The agency shall
    49  recommence assistance payments when such deficiency has been  corrected,
    50  and  may  use any payments withheld to make assistance payments relating
    51  to the period during which payments were withheld.
    52    (c) Use of alternative inspection method for interim  period.  In  the
    53  case of any property that within the previous twenty-four months has met
    54  the  requirements  of  an  inspection  that  qualifies as an alternative
    55  inspection method pursuant to subdivision four of this section, an agen-
    56  cy  administering  this  program  may  authorize  occupancy  before  the

        A. 3918                            10

     1  inspection  under  paragraph (a) of this subdivision has been completed,
     2  and may make assistance payments retroactive to  the  beginning  of  the
     3  lease  term after the unit has been determined pursuant to an inspection
     4  under  paragraph  (a)  of  this  subdivision to meet the housing quality
     5  standards under subdivision two of this section. This paragraph may  not
     6  be  construed  to  exempt  any  dwelling  unit  from compliance with the
     7  requirements of subdivision four of this section.
     8    2. Housing quality standards. The housing quality standards under this
     9  subdivision are standards for safe and habitable housing established:
    10    (a) by the commissioner for purposes of this subdivision; or
    11    (b) by local housing codes or by codes adopted by public housing agen-
    12  cies that:
    13    (i) meet or exceed housing quality standards, except that the  commis-
    14  sioner may waive the requirement under this subparagraph to significant-
    15  ly  increase access to affordable housing and to expand housing opportu-
    16  nities for individuals or  families  assisted  under  this  subdivision,
    17  except  where such waiver could adversely affect the health or safety of
    18  individuals or families assisted under this subdivision; and
    19    (ii) do not severely restrict housing choice.
    20    3. Inspection. The determination required  under  subdivision  one  of
    21  this  section  shall  be  made  by the agency administering this program
    22  pursuant to an inspection of the  dwelling  unit  conducted  before  any
    23  assistance  payment  is made for the unit. Inspections of dwelling units
    24  under this subdivision shall  be  made  before  the  expiration  of  the
    25  fifteen  day period beginning upon a request by the resident or landlord
    26  to the agency or, in the case of any  agency  that  provides  assistance
    27  under  this  subdivision on behalf of more than one thousand two hundred
    28  fifty individuals and families, before the expiration  of  a  reasonable
    29  period beginning upon such request.
    30    4.  Alternative  inspection  method. An inspection of a property shall
    31  qualify as an alternative inspection method for purposes of this  subdi-
    32  vision if:
    33    (a)  the  inspection  was  conducted  pursuant to requirements under a
    34  federal, state, or local housing program; and
    35    (b) pursuant to such inspection, the property was determined  to  meet
    36  the standards or requirements regarding housing quality or safety appli-
    37  cable  to  properties  assisted  under such program, and, if a non-state
    38  standard or requirement was used, the agency administering this  program
    39  has  certified  to  the  commissioner  that such standard or requirement
    40  provides the same or greater protection to occupants of  dwelling  units
    41  meeting such standard or requirement as would the housing quality stand-
    42  ards under subdivision two of this section.
    43    5.  Interim inspections. Upon notification to the agency administering
    44  this program, by an individual or family on  whose  behalf  tenant-based
    45  rental  assistance is provided under this subdivision or by a government
    46  official, that the dwelling unit for which such assistance  is  provided
    47  does not comply with the housing quality standards under subdivision two
    48  of this section, the agency shall inspect the dwelling unit:
    49    (a)  in  the  case  of  any condition that is life-threatening, within
    50  twenty-four hours after  the  agency's  receipt  of  such  notification,
    51  unless waived by the commissioner in extraordinary circumstances; and
    52    (b)  in the case of any condition that is not life-threatening, within
    53  a reasonable time frame, as determined by the commissioner.
    54    6. Inspection guidelines. The commissioner shall establish  procedural
    55  guidelines and performance standards to facilitate inspections of dwell-
    56  ing  units  and  conform such inspections with practices utilized in the

        A. 3918                            11

     1  private housing market. Such guidelines and standards  shall  take  into
     2  consideration  variations  in local laws and practices of public housing
     3  agencies and shall provide flexibility to agencies appropriate to facil-
     4  itate efficient provision of assistance under this subdivision.
     5    §  610.  Housing  obligations. Nothing in this section shall lessen or
     6  abridge any fair housing obligations promulgated by the federal  govern-
     7  ment,  state, municipalities, localities, or any other applicable juris-
     8  diction.
     9    § 611.  Reports by the commissioner. The  commissioner  shall,  on  or
    10  before  December  first,  two thousand twenty-one and on or before March
    11  first, two thousand twenty-two submit  and  make  publicly  available  a
    12  report  to  the  governor,  the  temporary  president of the senate, the
    13  speaker of the assembly, and on its website, on the number  of  individ-
    14  uals,  families,  and  households  that have applied for assistance, the
    15  number of applications accepted, the number  of  applications  rejected,
    16  the  status  of  any pending applications, the monthly expenditures made
    17  pursuant to this article including recipient demographic data,  regional
    18  data, and details on assistance payment values.
    19    § 2. Severability clause. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivi-
    20  sion,  section  or  part  of  this act shall be adjudged by any court of
    21  competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment  shall  not  affect,
    22  impair,  or  invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined
    23  in its  operation  to  the  clause,  sentence,  paragraph,  subdivision,
    24  section  or  part  of  this  act directly involved in the controversy in
    25  which such judgment shall have been rendered. It is hereby  declared  to
    26  be  the  intent of the legislature that this act would have been enacted
    27  even if such invalid clause, sentence, paragraph,  subdivision,  section
    28  or part had not been included herein.
    29    § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.