Cleary Files Amicus Brief in Support of Plaintiffs in Vincent v. Adams

May 2, 2024

Cleary Gottlieb filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Women in Need (Win) and six other New York City-based organizations that advocate for, and provide safe housing and critical services to, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, in support of the plaintiffs in Marie Vincent, et al. v. Mayor Eric Adams et al.

The plaintiffs—individuals and families in the shelter system or at risk of homelessness, joined by the City Council as petitioner-plaintiff—seek an order under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules requiring New York City Mayor Eric Adams to take immediate action to implement a package of laws passed by the City Council last summer to reform the city’s housing voucher program and extend eligibility.

Win is the largest provider of shelter and services to families with children experiencing homelessness in New York City. It operates 16 shelters and nearly 500 supportive housing units across the five boroughs. Each night, more than 6,500 people call Win “home,” including 3,600 children. Other amici provide similar and related services, including homelessness prevention, transitional housing, permanent housing, and legal and policy advocacy for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

In recognition of the scale and urgency of the city’s crises of homelessness and housing instability, three City Council members introduced four proposals in 2023 to increase access to the CityFHEPS program, a direct payment rental assistance program administered by the City of New York that provides rental assistance vouchers to eligible low- and moderate-income families. The changes were intended to relieve the pressure on the shelter system, provide housing security for low-income renters at risk of being forced to enter the shelter system, and to make it easier for those already in the system to be placed in permanent housing. In July of 2023 the City Council passed all four laws by an overwhelming 42 to eight majority, over Mayor Adams’ veto. Citing ill-defined concerns over the budgetary impact and administrative burdens, and despite having promised when he was elected to support similar measures, Mayor Adams refused to implement the laws.

After the 180-day implementation period expired, the Legal Aid Society filed suit seeking an injunction directing Mayor Adams to implement the laws and issue petitioners, and all those eligible under the law, the vouchers to which they are entitled. The amicus brief asks the court to consider the context in which the CityFHEPS reform laws were passed: a staggering housing crisis in New York City, where an alarming percentage of New Yorkers are burdened by unaffordable rent and are one lost job or illness away from eviction, homelessness, and shelter dependance. The case is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.

Read the amicus brief here, filed on behalf of Win, Coalition for the Homeless, Help USA, Homeless Services United, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, New York Coalition for Homeless Youth, and Community Service Society of New York.