New York Mayor Adams Passes Bills Providing Mental Health Services In Shelters, Interest Rates On Back Taxes, Juvenile Justice Oversight
Homeless shelters serving women and children in New York City will now be required to offer mental health services under a bill Mayor Adams signed into law Tuesday.
The new lawwhich was endorsed by Councilman Erik Bottcher (D-Manhattan), will ultimately increase the number of family shelters that have access to mental health services from nine to 247 in the coming months.
During a bill signing ceremony in the Blue Room of City Hall, Bottcher said the current situation is “unacceptable” and the new law will change that.
“Our system has failed so badly on the issue of mental health,” he said. “We have a two-tier mental health system. We have a system for people with insurance, good insurance, for people with means. And we have a system for everyone else.”
Bottcher’s bill was one of several the mayor signed into law Tuesday.
Others included a new mandate that will give the city more flexibility in setting interest rates on late tax payments and a requirement that the city creates advisory board to weigh in on juvenile justice cases that the city’s Administration for Children’s Services is deliberating.
Homeowners struggling to pay back taxes will be eligible for lower interest rates under the old law.
That law, which was endorsed by Councilor David Carr (RS.I.), is intended to benefit those who make a good faith effort to pay their bills.
Carr, who also spoke in the Blue Room of City Hall before Adams signed the billHe said the law was written to address a dilemma posed by the once-rigid rules around rates: how to punish violators who simply dodge property tax bills while helping those who they legitimately struggle to pay.
“The Council may adopt a second rate for those who are on property tax payment plans and are making good faith efforts on those payments to get out of the back-tax hole they’ve been in,” he said. “So ultimately, instead of them being thrown and never being able to get out of this tax debt, it’s going to be easier for them to get out of that hole.”
The Juvenile Justice Bill, which was sponsored by Althea Stevens (D-Bronx), is a way to give children and their parents more say in city decisions related to the discipline of children.
The advisory board to be created under the law will be made up of attorneys who have represented children, adults who had experience with juvenile justice as children, and parents.
“Today, I am here to tell young people that their voices matter,” Stevens said. “It is very important that the actions of our agencies and administration are informed by the lived experience of our friends, neighbors and especially our youth.”