On November 6, 2013, NYLAG testified before the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHPD), commenting on proposed changes to the Mitchell-Lama program rules.  The Mitchell-Lama program provides affordable housing to moderate- and middle-income New York City families.

The proposed new rules would deny succession rights to family members not related by blood or marriage, and allow succession only upon the death or relocation of the tenant to a long term care facility – a dramatic departure from the past rules, which would limit those who can qualify for succession.

The DHPD proposed restrictions on succession based on marital status infringe on the rights of all couples, but especially harm unmarried low-income same-sex partners. Despite the fact that same-sex marriage is recognized both federally and by the State of New York, just as with opposite-sex couples, not every same-sex couple chooses to marry. Older LGBT people in particular may not want to out themselves by such a public act, out of consideration for the feelings of family members, or concerns about implications for their careers, or other aspects of their lives. NYLAG’s testimony gives several examples of LGBT clients who would have lost their homes without DHPD succession rights in their current form. Read the full testimony here.

NYLAG’s testimony states that the proposed changes are “contrary to the Mitchell-Lama program’s purpose to address the “seriously inadequate” supply of affordable housing.” The program operates more than 44,600 units citywide. The proposed policy changes would potentially affect thousands of New Yorkers, including a disproportionate number of LGBT families, since they are more likely to be poor than their straight counterparts, and thus more likely to qualify for and live in Mitchell-Lama housing.