NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One week ago Kevin Nicholson showed a house in New Jersey, where the New York City Department of Homeless Services moved his family.
Since then, East Orange inspectors deemed this house uninhabitable, reports CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
On Thursday, Bauman returned to meet with Kevin in the shelter room where DHS has temporarily put his family, but she and Nicholson were escorted outside.
The city’s Special One-Time Assistance program covers one year’s rent for eligible working parents to move out of shelters.
Since CBS2 started reporting on the program, at least half a dozen different families have said DHS pressured them into unlivable New Jersey homes, many that were never up to code.
Since the city paid private landlords up front and in full, families say when their landlords disappeared, DHS did not help.
“We’re going make sure this family and the other families you’ve identified we can make sure they’ll get the proper help that they should’ve gotten to begin with,” said DHS Commissioner Steven Banks.
On Tuesday, CBS2 asked Mayor Bill de Blasio about the issue.
“No one’s pressuring people,” he said.
Kevin Nicholson disagrees.
“For those two guys to blatantly sit up there and make it seem like they’re reaching out closely to my family, that’s not what’s going on,” he said. “They’re as far as possible.”
Essex Newark Legal Services represents at least eight families were relocated by this program.
“New York, you have a housing court,” said Jose Ortiz of Essex Newark. “You don’t have that here in New Jersey, many times the tenant has to withhold their rent for the landlord to bring them to court. The problem here then the moneys been paid.”
DHS told us it has relocated more than 3,000 families with this program, but the agency still has not answered how much city money has been spent on it.
“The average family we’ve seen the city of New York has paid $17,000,” said Ortiz.
HOW TO HELP: Visit the Nicholson family’s GoFundMe page.
“Mayor de Blasio, I would like you to step in more with the homeless family,” said Nicholson.
“Don’t just sit behind a table and make it seem like the homeless families are wrong.”
By the math, 3,000 families at about $17,000 per lease, is more than $50 million in New York City taxpayer money being paid for unlivable conditions for homeless families.