Friday, December 6, 2019
de Blasio sent homeless families to live in squalid homes in New Jersey that were run by slumlords
Homeless New Yorkers moved to New Jersey under a controversial city program were left living in squalor at the mercy of exploitative landlords, a damning new report from the Department of Investigation says.
It’s the latest blow suffered by City Hall’s controversial Special One-Time Assistance program, which provides families in New York’s maligned shelter system a year’s worth of rent if they relocate outside of the five boroughs.
“The SOTA program was designed to help New York families break the cycle of homelessness and set them on the path to achieve stable, affordable housing,” said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
“However, DOI’s investigation has found the promise of the program is not being fulfilled.
“Instead, because of a lack of proper oversight and poorly designed paperwork, our investigation showed some SOTA families placed in housing outside of New York City were living in squalor under the roofs of unscrupulous landlords.”
The laundry list of hardships SOTA participants found themselves facing suggests some went from the frying pan to the fire.
One apartment’s temperature was a chilly 42.6 degrees thanks to a defective boiler.
Another home was infested with insects and vermin — and also lacked heat.
A third property was deemed suitable despite having 52 open violations in 2018.
But the owners of those properties, the report found, “collected tens-of-thousands of dollars in rental payments upfront from the City to provide these sub-par conditions with little risk of accountability for their actions.”
The de Blasio administration has spent $89 million since the SOTA program’s inception to relocate roughly 5,000 families, according to an investigation published by the New York Post in October. Nearly 1,200 of the families landed in Newark, which is New Jersey’s largest city and among its poorest.
Officials in the city filed a lawsuit in federal court there Monday, accusing New York City Hall of dumping the Big Apple’s homeless on the other side of the Hudson River and asking a court to stop the practice.