Housing and the war on drugs

Look at what’s contributing to homelessness – mental illness, addictions, substance abuse. We have a huge problem in the State of New York with the heroin epidemic, and it’s causing a great deal of families to be torn apart…and it’s raising up the homelessness rates around the state. It’s a quality of life issue we have to address…supportive housing, we have found, to be successful with those individuals who have struggled with addictions.
— - NY State Senator George Amedore, Chair of the Senate Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee

New York Public Housing and Drug Policy 

Public Housing Authorities may deny admissions to anyone they reasonably believe is currently using illegal drugs. Federal law and Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations specifically authorize public housing officials to ask applicants about their drug use histories and, after receiving consent from the applicants, obtain otherwise confidential records from their treatment providers. Public Housing Authorities can admit applicants with a history of drug use, including recent use, if applicants are able to show sufficient rehabilitation.

Permanent Exclusion

"Permanent Exclusion" refers to a condition placed on a public housing family's tenancy, in which an individual member of the household is removed from the household, forbidden from visiting the apartment in the future and in which the remaining family members are forced to agree to unannounced visits by housing inspectors to check for the presence of the excluded individual for the duration of their tenancy. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) excluded 4,692 individuals during the period 2007-2014. NYCHA routinely seeks Permanent Exclusion following an arrest of an individual household member, often for only minor offenses and in cases where criminal charges were dropped.

Nuisance Abatement

Nuisance abatement lawsuits, are an arcane legal actions giving the city power to close commercial properties and evict tenants from residential properties when there is suspicion that the property is being used for illegal activity. The NYPD files upward of 1,000 nuisance abatement cases a year, nearly half of them against residences. Although the nuisance abatement provision was constructed to respond to the growth of the sex industry, there were only 28 nuisance abatement cases  for  prostitution in 2013 – the current alleged offense is for alcoholic beverage control violations, marijuana and other drug violations and, since the expansion of the provision in 2015, the sale of synthetic marijuana.

Read DPA's Nuisance Abatement Memo