City Council Passes Two Bills to Help Homeless Stay United with Pets in Shelters

Image credit: New York City Council.

The bills encourage people to seek shelter by providing pet-friendly options. On August 26, 2021, the City Council passed two bills aimed to help accommodate pets in homeless shelters. Both bills were sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin.

Int. 1483-A requires the Department of Homeless Services to develop a plan to accommodate pets of homeless families and individuals to allow homeless pet-owners to keep their pets. Lack of accommodation for pets is a barrier to entering shelter for many individuals and families. Currently, Department of Homeless Services shelters do not allow for pets, so people entering shelters need to find temporary pet accommodations, or face the choice of surrendering their pet to an animal shelter or forgoing shelters altogether. 

Co-sheltering, the sheltering of people and animals together, has been successful in models around the country. This bill will require the Department of Homeless Services to consider options like prioritizing acquisition of facilities that can permit pets, and identify current shelter providers that will permit pets. 

The plan must be submitted to the Speaker of the Council no later than 180 days after the effective date of the bill. 

Int. 1484-A will require the Department of Homeless Services to post information about the process for having a pet designated as an emotional support animal on its website. The agency would also be required to issue a report every three months about how many individuals and families applied for shelter and reported having a pet, and the placement or disposition of pets belonging to people entering shelters. 

Both bills take effect immediately.

Council Member Levin stated, “Today is an exciting day in the Council, thank you to Speaker Johnson for bringing these critical bills to a vote. This legislation came about after hearing from constituents directly about the barriers they face in accessing shelter and I am proud to see the concrete change these bills will make for New Yorkers. The experience of homelessness is traumatic and challenging enough — the prospect of parting with a pet shouldn’t be a contributing factor to such hardship. Our pets are our families and expanding access to shelter makes it possible for more New Yorkers to safely enter shelter and leave unsafe situations by being able to keep their companion animals with them. I look forward to continuing to reduce barriers to shelter by better accommodating those experiencing homelessness with pets. Thank you to the advocates and impacted individuals who fought so hard for this legislation.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)

One thought on “City Council Passes Two Bills to Help Homeless Stay United with Pets in Shelters

  1. Great that the homeless can have their pet in shelter. But sad that people are being shifted around like animals.
    Why doesn’t the city try to make permanent housing out of some of the Sheltered places.
    Also with the limited land and spaces take abandoned properties that are not being used and build housing. Do renovations on boarded buildings.
    Have a better process for giving Section8 to those who need housing; as there is lots of Fraud and abuse in the system, If corrected you would have more housing for the needy,
    They are a lot of people committing fraud within the system and many that live in hosing hat are not entitled to do so. When politicians win whatever they are running for they should do the right thing and set an example does not take advantage for themselves.
    Thinking they are entitled to the lower rents when they could afford to pay a higher rent.
    Poor people can’t afford. We need more order in the system on how things are run.

    wasting so much money.

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