Legislative Gazette: State, local Suffolk leaders meet on subsidized housing

Brian X. Foley

June 08, 2009

Legislative Gazette Staff Writer
Mon, Jun 8, 2009

Officials from Suffolk County met with state legislators last month to lobby for the reform of social service laws that affect public housing. 

The meeting, conducted by Sen. Brian X. Foley, D-Blue Point, and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., R-Sag Harbor, focused on bills meant to address housing problems faced by towns and hamlets throughout Suffolk County. The legislation would have statewide implications. 

“I am proud to sponsor legislation that will finally reform social services laws, protect vulnerable individuals receiving social services assistance and restore the quality of life in communities throughout Suffolk County,” said Foley. “By implementing common sense measures that require landlords receiving [Department of Social Services] funding to maintain their property and treat tenants fairly, we can revive blighted neighborhoods and uplift our communalities.”

One of the bills sponsored by Foley and Thiele (S.4322-a/A.2182-a) would require landlords to file a verified statement with the local department of social services if they are renting apartments to tenants on public assistance. The bill would require “that the building containing the housing accommodations meets all applicable building codes, ordinances and regulations of the municipality where the building is located,” according to the bill sponsor’s memo. A new statement would have to be filed every six months.

The bill was referred to the Senate Codes Committee last Tuesday and to the Assembly Social Services Committee on June 1.

Three other bills, sponsored by Foley relating to social services were also mentioned at the May 18 meeting with Suffolk County leaders: 

n Bill S.4323-a/A.3146-a would require the state commissioner of social services ensure all tenants receiving public assistance reside in housing that is in compliance with local building codes, ordinances and regulations. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee last Tuesday. It is sponsored by Thiele in the Assembly and was sent to the Assembly Social Services Committee June 1. 

n Bill S.4272-a/A.7010-a would direct the commissioner of social services to deny multiple payments to landlords who rent single-family homes to multiple families and collect multiple monthly payments. The bill would require the commissioner to implement a system to track public assistance payments. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee last week. In the Assembly, it is sponsored by Marc Alessi, D-Shoreham, and was sent to the Social Services Committee last Wednesday. 

n Bill S.549-a/A.7502-a would require local commissioners of social services to inform local law enforcement agencies when a homeless sex offender is placed in temporary emergency housing. The bill was sent to the Senate Social Services Committee June 1. It is sponsored by Thiele in the Assembly, where it was referred to the Social Services Committee last Tuesday. 

“The reason I sought this meeting was to enable the state committee chairs to hear firsthand the concerns that have been raised by local residents and their local representatives,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. In addition to these bills, Levy also asked that lawmakers introduce legislation that would allow the Suffolk County Social Services Department to withhold housing payments for a property where a notice of violation has been issued.

“Today’s meeting stemmed from years of efforts from civic advocates and elected officials, including legislation I sponsored in the county Legislature,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning.

Assembly Social Services Committee Chairman Keith Wright, D-Manhattan, and Senate Social Service Committee Chairwoman Velmanette Montgomery, D-Brooklyn, briefly joined the meeting to listen to the concerns of the county representatives.

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