Throughout the pandemic, REBNY and its members have taken industry-leading steps to help keep New Yorkers housed and ensure greater access to housing for New Yorkers in need. For example, even before the State’s adoption of an eviction moratorium, REBNY members committed to a voluntary 90-day halt to evictions to ensure vulnerable New Yorkers were not displaced from their homes during the immediate crisis. This step was followed by REBNY members and others in the real estate community stepping forward to create Project Parachute. Project Parachute is a coalition of owners, non-profit organizations and service providers led by Enterprise Community Partners which aims to work collaboratively to keep vulnerable New Yorkers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis in their homes. To date, Project Parachute has raised nearly $13 million amount to support over 3,000 New Yorkers, particularly those who are not served by existing forms of assistance. Over 80% of these New Yorkers would not have qualified for existing rental assistance programs due to restrictive eligibility requirements.
Project Parachute’s pledge is to find collaborative ways to reduce evictions and keep tenants stably housed, and the success of this initiative underscores a key point. Rental assistance is the best, most efficient way to help tenants whose incomes do not match their rent, to stabilize buildings that are financially stressed due to rental arrears, and/or undergoing sustained vacancies in certain segments of the market, and to shore up the housing ecosystem without overly burdening one party over another. This is why REBNY was proud to support Local Law 71 of 2021, which raised the value of the CityFHEPS vouchers to make this form of rental assistance more competitive in our housing market. REBNY was also proud to support recent changes in State law to increase the value of StateFHEPS housing vouchers. Both have given formerly homeless New Yorkers more choices about where they can live, and greater opportunities in more expensive neighborhoods.