Ayala leads council in passing resolution authorizing legal action against Mayor Adams for ‘poor governance’ regarding homelessness

Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala.
Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala.
Photo courtesy New York City Council

City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala on Feb. 8 led the council to pass a resolution allowing the speaker to take legal action against Mayor Eric Adams for what the council says is his failure to combat the homelessness crisis. 

Ayala, who represents parts of the South Bronx and Manhattan in District 8, led a Committee on General Welfare meeting before the full vote on Feb. 8, where she called Mayor Adams’s failure to implement a package of bills “another example of poor governance.”  

“The mayor’s outright refusal to implement legislation that will serve as a long term solution to the city’s homelessness crisis is short-sighted at best,” Ayala, who chairs the Committee on General Welfare, said. 

The package of bills, called the CityFHEPS Expansion Laws, were passed into law over a mayoral veto in July 2023. 

They include Local Laws 99, 100, 101 and 102 — which aim to “provide a cost-effective method of alleviating the strain on our shelter system but also facilitate an easier pathway for the most vulnerable members of our society to secure housing,” according to the resolution. Specifically they aim to do so by prohibiting utility deduction allowances from the maximum amount of a CityFHEPS voucher, removing shelter stay as a CityFHEPS eligibility marker, and allowing people at-risk of eviction to access vouchers, among other things.    

Bronx council members serve as prime sponsors for the majority of the laws in the package — Ayala for Local Law 100 and District 14 Council Member Pierina Sanchez for Local Laws 101 and 102. Queens Council Member Tiffany Cabán is the prime sponsor for 99.  

The CityFHEPS Expansion Laws were supposed to go into effect on Jan. 9, according to the Committee on General Welfare, but they haven’t yet. 

“As I’ve said before, while the mayor repeatedly speaks about the strain in the city’s budget … his administration has done very little to expedite the move out of those in shelter and into permanent housing,” Ayala said during the committee meeting before the full vote.  

Homelessness was a big topic of conversation among Bronx leaders this past summer, as local community boards pointed to inequities in homeless shelter policy. 

Momentum started with the proposal of a new shelter on Webster Avenue and 183rd Street in Fordham Heights, which residents and Bronx Community Boards 5 and 6 staunchly opposed — claiming that those community districts unfairly bear the brunt of homeless shelter siting. 

“When no one is asking for shelters, the communities that have the most political power are best able to resist shelters,” Bronx CB6 District Manager Rafael Moure-Punnett told the Bronx Times in June 2023. “So it’s not a policy, it’s just a response to protest. And I think what we want to have a conversation about … how does that affect neighborhoods like ours in the Bronx when we’re not coming out to protest.” 

Most of the grievances over what the community says is an over saturation of homeless shelters has been cast to the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) — the agency that has been criticized for its lack of communication and transparency when it comes to homelessness in the city. 

Bronx community boards have continued to seek action through last summer and fall. 

In a letter obtained by the Bronx Times that was sent to Ayala’s office on Aug. 1, 2023, leadership from seven out of the Bronx’s 12 community boards outlined their concerns with current siting policy, or lack thereof.

The move by the City Council on Feb. 8 paves the way for Council Speaker Adrienne Adams to take legal action against Mayor Adams.

Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes