With the City Council’s passage of Intro 837, the residency standards for certain city employees will get easier. This bill does not affect police officers and fire fighters, but instead it targets social services workers who, until now, were relegated to living in the five boroughs indefinitely.
New York City Employees Union DC 37 fought for a more lenient residency standard, while the city council was reluctant to grant this for a long time. DC 37 employees are described by the union on its website as people who “work in the Departments of Social Services, Homeless Services, ACS, Finance, Environmental Protection, Transportation, Parks, HPD, Buildings, City Planning, Citywide Admin Services, Health, Law, Sanitation (non-uniforms), Police (non uniforms), Fire (non-uniforms), and Correction (non uniforms), among others.”
Then-City Councilman, now State Senator, Joseph Addabbo fought to make this standard more lenient. It’s not hard to understand the city council’s reluctance in years past. The jobs that are in question are not high paying jobs, but people compete for them. Nobody wants to see the city lose jobs to Westchester or Long Island. But the times in which we live demand that public policy address economic concerns.
Rents in New York City are high. Real estate in New York City is high even with the recession. If an employee earns an average of $31,000 a year, and that is what DC 37 says their members are getting, options need to be available. It’s a good bill. It will in all likelihood not cause the city to hemorrhage jobs.
If you add to the already harrowing economic climate the fact that many people in their forties and fifties have taken in aging parents to live with them, and you see why it is a good idea to make options available to people.
Under the bill, a person needs to work in this position as a resident for two years, and then the employee has the option to live in six counties surrounding the city. As someone that would stand to benefit from this, I asked Addabbo if there was a way he could work Jersey City into the mix. He wasn’t biting on that one. But when you think about it, a person that works in lower Manhattan can live in Jersey City and be much closer to work than if that same person lived in Mineola. And the rent and real estate options would be more compromising if you earn $31,000 a year (the $31,000 is an average estimate).