EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – For months CBS2 has been telling you about a city-funded program that moved families out of city shelters and into homes with deplorable conditions.
As many as 180 families were moved to East Orange, New Jersey.
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New York City’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is finally working with New Jersey officials to help some of these families find new homes.
Now, the courts are holding these landlords accountable. One of those notorious landlords was expected in court Wednesday, but Sean Young was a no-show.
“My client was confused your honor, it’s inexcusable,” Calvin Souder, the landlord’s attorney said.
“No, no, there’s no confusion. He signed a notice to be here on this date. There’s no confusion about that,” East Orange housing court Judge Sherwin Campbell replied.
Young is one of many landlords who have received one year’s rent up-front from DHS.
The money was given through what’s called the “single one time assistance program,” or SOTA. Young has received around $40,000 to house at least two families.
Those homes had no heat, no working bathroom, and no running water. They were later condemned by the city.
WEB EXTRA – CBSN New York’s Mark Peters talks about SOTA and if it can be fixed:
One of those families is now back in a shelter and came to court to face young.
“Come up all the way from 42nd Street over here for you not to be here… Sean Young you should be ashamed of yourself,” SOTA tenant Kevin Nicholson said.
“The least you can do is compensate us for our pain and suffering,” Sade Collington added.
Last month, the families and CBS2 cameras confronted DHS commissioner Steven Banks.
After being grilled by the New York City Council, DHS says the city is trying to help them find new housing.
Tenant Michael Leake says DHS finally moved his family to another New Jersey home.
The mayor of East Orange has been trying to reach DHS for months. He believes CBS2’s reporting prompted them to finally call him back last week.
“We laid out some parameters that we want them to abide by… When you send them to us and it don’t work out then it puts a strain on our resources here,” Mayor Ted Green said.
Young is due back in court next Wednesday and his tenants say they will be here too.
DHS declined to go on camera after Wednesday’s hearing. The agency will only say it’s working with law enforcement to investigate potential fraud.