A bill that would create a statewide housing voucher program in New York cleared a key Assembly panel on Tuesday as a debate over how to expand access to housing continues in Albany. 

The measure, backed by Assembly Housing Committee Chair Linda Rosenthal, would create a statewide voucher program for people who are homeless and people who at risk of eviction. 

The program is modeled after the federal Section 8 program. It would cap a person's rent at 30% of their income and voucher standards would be set from 90% to 120% of a region's fair market rent. 

Households would qualify under the proposal if they have earnings that are equal or less than 50% of the area median income. About half of an area's funds would be distributed to families who are homeless. 

“With this vote, the Assembly Housing Committee has signaled its commitment to those living on the precipice of eviction or clawing their way out of shelter: we will use every tool at our disposal to create a more affordable and just state," Rosenthal said. "HAVP is a ladder out of poverty, and as a legislative body, we have a moral obligation to ensure every New Yorker can climb its rungs into safe, secure housing.” 

Three states having housing voucher programs in place: New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

The measure is advancing as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are debating a $227 billion budget plan that includes measures meant to help the state reach a goal of 800,000 units of new housing in the coming years. Rosenthal wants a final housing voucher program included in the state budget, expected to pass by April 1. 

“New York cannot continue decades of status quo housing policies that have not kept pace with the need for affordable units," Rosenthal said. “Without bold action and innovative solutions, our most vulnerable neighbors will continue to languish on our streets and in shelter. HAVP is an important puzzle piece in solving the State’s affordable housing crisis, and as such, must be given the attention it rightfully deserves in the governor’s executive budget this Fiscal year.”