Newark Sues New York City Over Homeless Relocation Program

WCBS 880 Newsroom
December 03, 2019 - 5:10 pm
Homeless in subway

Mario Tama/Getty Images


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The city of Newark is suing New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio over a program that relocates homeless individuals and families in New Jersey.

Newark says the “Special One-Time Assistance” (SOTA) program – which pays for a year’s rent for participants to move anywhere they want in the country – often coerces people into moving into illegal or uninhabitable conditions.

Giselle Routhier, the policy director for Coalition for the Homeless, says the program highlights a larger issue in New York City.

“This is a symptom of an underlying problem of the affordability crisis in New York City and New York City not providing enough affordable housing for homeless New Yorkers,” she said.

She agrees with the city of Newark in that the program leads to more issues than it fixes.

“The city is increasing relying on this really flawed program that gives people one year’s rent paid upfront and they can move anywhere they'd like,” she explains. “But a lot of times it is not giving people the stability they need.”

She adds that in many cases, the homes that these people move into often do not have proper heating or hot water and may be invested with mice or other pests.

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

A representative for Mayor de Blasio responded to the lawsuit, saying Newark is heartlessly targeting homeless individuals.

“In the face of a regional housing crisis, the City of Newark has inexplicably taken a page from the Trump playbook, building a wall to single out and prevent families from seeking housing where they want to live," a City Hall statement read.