NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York City Council has authorized a lawsuit to prevent a homeless shelter policy from taking effect.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

The policy would require single adults looking for shelter to prove they have nowhere else to go. The council voted to authorize the lawsuit during a meeting Tuesday.

“And send people away who may have been sleeping on friend’s floors or couches for months on end,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who calls the policy “cruel and punitive.”

Advocates for the homeless are also upset about the proposal.

“In the single adult system, you have a much higher rate of mental illness and other underlying issues,” Mary Brosnahan, executive director Coalition for the Homeless, said earlier this month. ”Many of these people have either come directly from the street or will be sent right back out to the street, so our big fear is that this could be a death sentence for many people.”

But the homeless department’s commissioner, Seth Diamond, said Monday that the policy is fair.

“The policy that we announced is a very strong policy that will preserve shelter for those who need it and make sure that people who have alternatives to shelter use those options before they enter the city shelter system,” said Diamond

The Department of Homeless Services has delayed implementing the policy until a judge reviews a separate legal challenge by the Legal Aid Society.

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