Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel has signed a second Emergency Order to block a New York City program from relocating people to Chautauqua County.
The order, titled “Local State of Emergency, Emergency Order No. 2 on Sustainable Migration,” is in response to New York City’s expanded “Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (City FHEPS)” program. This program provides five years (or more) of rental vouchers to homeless NYC residents who agree to relocate upstate.
Wendel said in a release that, “This unlawful program poses a grave risk to the social, health and emergency services resources of our county, practically because the county’s homeless population is already at an all-time high. A mass arrival of additional homeless individuals could create a crisis locally, impacting both county and non-profit services who meet the needs of these individuals.”
The emergency order prohibits any person, business or entity within Chautauqua County to accept a rental voucher as payment for housing, without obtaining prior written authorization from the County Executive.
Wendel said the program violates a 1984 consent judgment the city agreed to and Chautauqua County’s right to self-governance. He added that while the vouchers pay for housing, county government would still be obligated to cover social services costs.
Anyone who may knowingly violate this Emergency Order is subject to a criminal charge by the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, a class B misdemeanor.
The new emergency order takes effect immediately and will remain in place for a period of five days. The order can be renewed for additional five day periods, as required.
A similar order was issued on May 18, 2023 preventing the City of New York from engraining in private or public agreements to relocate Asylum Seekers to Chautauqua County.