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NYLAG Brings “Secret Laws” Governing NYCHA Residents Out from the Shadows

The New York Legal Assistance Group fought for and secured the publication of the nation’s largest public housing authority’s Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan—and it’s finally here.

NEW YORK, NY — On Wednesday, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) publicly released its new Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan (ACOP) for public notice and comment, a major step toward transparency in the public housing program’s governing policies, thanks to over a year of advocacy from NYLAG.

The ACOP is a crucial public-facing document that outlines a Public Housing Authority’s policies and procedures. Before today, there was no easily accessible way for NYCHA residents, housing advocates, or other members of the public to know what NYCHA’s rules were—even when residents were being accused of and threatened with consequences for breaking those rules. While NYCHA has long resisted calls to make its policies and procedures publicly available, the implementation of this ACOP finally brings transparency to the laws that impact the estimated 600,000 plus New Yorkers who live in Section 9 housing.

NYCHA’s publication of this ACOP comes after more than a year of NYLAG’S advocacy that any set of rules with the force of the law must be made public—just as the Rent Stabilization Codes are public information for private housing tenants—because no one deserves the risk of housing instability for violating policies they were never aware of.

“For years, the rules governing 7% of New York City’s rental stock were not publicly available, and we at NYLAG are thrilled to say that has finally changed with the publication of this ACOP,” said Anna LuftProject Director of NYLAG’s Public Housing Justice Project. “Working with NYCHA residents every day, we know firsthand the difficulties our clients can face with policies around terminations, succession, transfers, reentry, and more. NYCHA residents often live at the intersection of significant economic and racial inequities, perpetuated by a combination of city, state and federal policies. NYCHA’s long refusal to allow residents and their advocates to access the rules governing their living arrangements posed serious threats to their housing security and has significantly inhibited their ability to truly access their due process rights. The ACOP will provide vital transparency and accessibility to these residents, and we count this as a huge win for all New Yorkers.”

“NYCHA residents shouldn’t be subjected to secret laws, especially while New Yorkers in private housing aren’t,” said Kate Fetrowa Senior Staff Attorney in NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit. “With the creation of this ACOP, this crucial information on obtaining and retaining public housing is now publicly available and NYCHA residents can finally know their rights without having to file a public records request to gain access to the law. We are grateful to have worked with NYCHA to bring this plan to fruition and are eager for this notice and comment period so NYCHA can continue shaping a plan that best serves its residents.”

NYCHA’s ACOP will combine parts of already existing policy documents to cover admission criteria, application processes, tenant selection, rent calculation, lease terms, occupancy standards, annual recertifications, transfers, terminations, and grievance procedures. For more information, see NYCHA’s ACOP page.

The publication of this ACOP also creates an opportunity for residents and advocates to rightfully be heard on the rules and policies that impact them. There will be a commenting period on the substantive policies contained in the ACOP during which any NYCHA resident, housing advocate, or member of the public can share comments, concerns, and thoughts on rules and regulations in the ACOP. As NYLAG firmly believes that policies should be informed by the experiences of those directly impactedwe strongly encourage New Yorkers to participate during the notice and comment period by emailinglease.changes@nycha.nyc.gov, or by writing to NYCHA – Lease Clause Changes, P.O. Box 3422, New York, NY 10008.

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About NYLAG 

Founded in 1990, New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is a leading civil legal services organization combating economic, racial, and social injustice by advocating for people experiencing poverty or in crisis. NYLAG exists because wealth should not determine who has access to justice. Our services impacted the lives of 113,000 people last year.

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