By LIZ A. GORDON, NYT ReporterA few months ago, in a tiny room on the first floor of a vacant warehouse in the heart of Manhattan, the New York City Department of Homeless Services’ new “guidelines” for New Yorkers who have lived here longer than five years.
For those who have stayed here more than two decades, it will make them ineligible for a state-subsidized housing voucher program that would have subsidized them.
For families with children under 18, the rules are even more severe: They will be required to move into housing with “substantial” increases in rent, a condition that many have called impossible.
The rules also would require anyone seeking to live in New York for at least five years to apply for a city voucher.
For more than 100,000 people who were living in New Jersey when the city was founded, they were eligible for housing vouchers, but were told that they would not be eligible for one until after the state approved a statewide rental freeze.
In some cases, families that have already been in New England for years have been forced to move back to New York.
“It was a nightmare,” said L.J. D’Souza, a 41-year-old lawyer who lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Midtown Brooklyn, with a baby boy.
He has lived in the city for 10 years and said he has lived here less than two months because his rent has increased nearly 300 percent.
“I didn’t think I was getting a break,” he said.
In a statement, the department said the new rules would protect “those individuals who are living in the City who have been in the United States for at most five years.”
But critics said the rules would not only restrict housing options, but also the quality of the housing available.
The rules do not go far enough to protect families that do not qualify for a housing voucher, said Robert Weissman, president of the Legal Aid Society, an advocacy group.
As the nation’s poorest city, New York has some of the lowest rates of housing discrimination in the country.
In New York, the median income for a family of four is about $30,000 a year, according to the Census Bureau.
The state has a poverty rate of more than 27 percent, the lowest of any state.
But the housing crisis has been particularly severe in New Orleans, where the median family income is about one-fifth of that in New America.
In Louisiana, about half of all New Yorkers live in poverty, according the Census.
And even as New York and other big cities have seen a surge in immigration, New Orleans has seen a sharp decline in the number of new residents, even as the number has grown.
This is not the first time New York state has adopted rules that would affect immigrant families.
In 2009, New Yorkers voted to impose a state “housing freeze” that cut off public assistance for thousands of families with incomes of up to $47,500 a year.
The city also began requiring people to prove they were in the U.S. legally to qualify for assistance.
The law, which has been in effect since May, was the first of its kind in the nation.
New York state and the federal government had been considering rules that could make it easier for immigrant parents to get city vouchers for housing but have not yet taken any steps.
The rule was designed to encourage new families to move here and would have eliminated a tax on property in New New York that is used to fund the city’s programs.
A state-imposed freeze was meant to curb a sharp increase in rent that had become a major source of strain for low-income residents of Midtown Manhattan, including many immigrant families who were trying to stay here for more than a decade.
After New York became the first state to impose such a rule, some advocates said it was unfair to the families who had been here for so long.
New York had already adopted rules to limit the number and type of units housing developers could build, which meant the rules were only temporary, said Sarah Hochman, an attorney at the Legal Services Corporation, an immigration law firm.
Many families who have sought help with rent payments have found they are being pushed out of the city by developers who are seeking more affordable housing in other states, said John A. Tisch, a lawyer with the New America Foundation who is also a member of the Housing Works board of directors.
He said the state should be requiring all developers to build more affordable units.
Instead, state officials say they are focused on protecting vulnerable families who may have been left with no choice but to leave New York because of rising rents.
At the same time, they are also making the city more vulnerable to fraud by developers seeking to use a rule that would make it more difficult for families to afford housing.
Developers have filed more than 200 fraudulent claims to the state