De Blasio ‘Surprised’ By Newark’s Lawsuit Over Homeless Relocation Program

WCBS 880 Newsroom
December 05, 2019 - 6:09 pm
Bill de Blasio

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday defended a controversial program that relocates homeless individuals and families out of New York City.

While he admitted “there were mistakes” in the Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) program – which pays for a year’s rent for participants to move anywhere they want in the country – de Blasio said he was “surprised” to learn the city of Newark was suing over the program.

Of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, de Blasio asked: “How could any city turn its back on people in need?”

“I had spoken to him several times over the last year. Our teams were in constant contact. But, when it goes from what appears to be an actual dialogue to the city of Newark with no warning whatsoever filing a lawsuit, that was really a derogatory lawsuit,” the New York City mayor said.

New Jersey’s largest city has taken in over 1,100 homeless families from the New York City program and is suing for a temporary restraining order and, eventually, a permanent injunction against the Big Apple from “further implementation of the SOTA program.”

Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Investigations found the apartments many homeless people have been relocated into – which were meant to be inspected before relocation – had a number of vermin and heating issues.

De Blasio says the program isn’t great, but the city is working to ensure everyone is placed in a safe and clean home.

“Was it perfect on day one? Absolutely not. And, there were mistakes for sure and those mistakes were caught and acted on,” the mayor said.