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City Limits: Pioneering Tenant Group Champions Rights of NYC’s 35K Supportive Housing Residents

The city’s sprawling, patchwork supportive housing network is designed to provide homes and services for people who have experienced homelessness. But too often the model leads to unnecessary restrictions, inconsistencies and even glaring housing violations against vulnerable residents, according to the people who live there.

David Brand | Mike Anderson, an organizer with the Supportive Housing Organized and United Tenants (SHOUT).


“One of the most frustrating things we hear from tenants in supportive housing is that they do not receive information, or are given misinformation, about their essential tenants’ rights by landlords and service providers,” said Jenny Akchin, a staff attorney with TakeRoot Justice who has advised SHOUT. “You can’t exercise housing rights you don’t know you have, so this bill is a really important first step towards ensuring that supportive housing tenants can self-advocate for improved housing conditions.”

Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin, the Intro. 2176 sponsor, has participated in regular conferences with SHOUT members, advocates and providers, and said the bill of rights will foster respect and transparency among all parties.

“The vast majority of supportive housing providers and staff are really compassionate and hardworking people and really dedicated to the work they do and doing a lot of hours for not a lot of pay,” Levin said. “But I think [the legislation] is in everyone’s interest because the most successful arrangements are built on mutual respect for each other’s rights.”

“These rights are through state legislation, housing law and any rights they have gained through litigation,” he added. “This is just making sure tenants know all of them.”


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