New York City

NYC Council mocks Eric Adams’ housing op-ed with ‘annotated version’

The conflict over a package of City Council bills comes amid continually fraying relations between council leaders and City Hall and on the eve of a likely veto override.

Mayoral housing op-ed (Council's Version)

Mayoral housing op-ed (Council's Version) New York City Council

As if Mayor Eric Adams didn’t have enough problems with people evaluating his administration’s work, the New York City Council is taking out its own red marker. 

The City Council will vote Thursday on overriding Adams’ veto of a package of bills that would expand access to housing rental vouchers, and the messy debate that’s unfolded since the council passed this package that the mayor openly opposes is only getting more hostile. 

Ahead of the veto override vote, the City Council sent out an “annotated version” of a recent op-ed from the mayor explaining why he vetoed the bills. An illustration of the annotated memo picked apart Adams’ assertions like an overzealous teacher, circling and crossing out sections it deemed “misleading,” “wrong” and “gaslighting” – even urging the administration to “show your work” on the claim that there are better ways to help homeless New Yorkers find places to live. 

The direct and even mocking criticism is a move that could typically be expected from individual council members who have long been outspoken about their criticism of the mayor. But coming from council leaders, it’s a sign of continually fraying relations with City Hall. The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to eliminating a rule that requires a person or family to stay in the shelter system for 90 days before becoming eligible for city rental assistance vouchers, the council bills would further expand access to those housing vouchers to anyone under a certain income level who is at risk of homelessness or eviction. After the council passed the bills, Adams made his own emergency rule change that suspends the 90-day rule, but it’s the other aspects of the package that he’s pushed back against hardest. Adams has said that the further expansion of eligibility would cost taxpayers too much and result in the deprioritization of those who most urgently need housing. “I cannot overemphasize that we have people with cityFHEPs (rental assistance) vouchers right now that are looking for places to live. The worst thing we can do is add more to that population,” Adams said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The council’s annotated memo takes issue with several assertions in Adams’ op-ed, including arguing that it overstates the administration’s accomplishments on housing. For example, the op-ed notes that the administration launched a pilot to place homeless New Yorkers in supportive housing, but the council memo shoots back that the pilot was “unnecessarily small in scope” at just 80 units.

Assuming that the council vote to override the veto passes, the Adams administration is considering suing to block the bills from going into effect. It’s unclear exactly what legal basis will be used, but Adams has said that the council doesn’t have legal authority to make these laws.