STATEMENT: New York State Repeals Welfare Lien Laws

Eòghann Renfroe April 06, 2021


For Immediate Release: April 6, 2021

Contact: Susan Antos, 518-755-5893, santos@empirejustice.org


New York State Will No Longer ‘Lien’ on Homeowners – Repeal of Welfare Lien Laws

Empire Justice Center applauds legislators and the Governor’s commitment to repeal current laws that require applicants for public assistance who own homes to give a mortgage to the county as a condition for eligibility for public assistance. New York was the last state in the nation to require homeowners to give a mortgage on their homes in exchange for receiving welfare benefits, perpetuating an endless cycle of poverty and hardships.

We thank the Governor, Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senators Roxanne Persaud and Liz Krueger, Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and Central Staff including Tamara Frazier and Jennifer Sacco for working so diligently to make lives better for low-income New Yorkers.

“This law placed an unfair hardship on divorced mothers with children, who may have had to rely on public assistance when their children were young and the fathers of their children failed to pay child support. Individuals who had been off public assistance for years have often found it impossible to refinance their mortgages or obtain home equity loans. The repeal will finally allow more low-income New Yorkers to achieve financial security,” said Susan Antos, Senior Benefits Attorney at Empire Justice Center.

“I am so glad to see the repeal. Empire Justice Center has spent almost a decade working on the issue in collaboration with advocates, legislators, and agency officials. This repeal means low-income homeowners can modify their mortgage and keep their homes, families can go through probate more quickly, and more families have a path to financial security,” said Kristin Brown, President and CEO of Empire Justice Center.

For more information on the issue, please see our 2013 report:  Don’t Lien on Me: HOW NEW YORK’S PUBLIC ASSISTANCE MORTGAGES UNDERMINE HOMEOWNERSHIP AND FINANCIAL STABILITY.


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To find out more about Empire Justice Center, visit our website, www.empirejustice.org. To learn more about our policy and legislative advocacy, visit Policy Central on our website or follow our monthly newsletter, Policy Matters.

Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy, public interest law firm focused on changing the systems” within which poor and low-income families live. Empire Justice protects and strengthens the legal rights of people in New York State who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and high quality direct civil legal representation. Empire Justice has offices in Albany, Rochester, Yonkers, White Plains and Central Islip on Long Island.