NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — From one unlivable home to another.
It seems some of the forgotten families CBS2 told you about earlier this year are still being forgotten.
New working homeless families sent by New York City official to live in decrepit apartments tell us it’s happened again.
Under the program, families allegedly forced out of homeless shelters through city funded program and into homes with mice, broken ceilings, and no heat or hot water.
“We try our best to clean this every day,” Jarvis Cureton told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner. “And we have to clean constantly.”
This is not the apartment tour he expected he’d be giving after his family spent a full year without heat or electricity at another home in Newark, N.J. He was put there by the New York City government.
“As soon as we moved in, we informed them of like it was of, like, it was an infestation problem,” Cureton said.
“Them” is New York’s Department of Homeless Services. Caseworkers allegelt told the working parents to take it up with the landlord after finding the family the home in April.
“They just wanted to fix the situation. It was kind of a rush. They rushed us in here,” said Cabria Cummings.
Cureton, his wife and 2-year-old son are part of nearly a dozen families CBS2 covered earlier this year that say DHS pressured them to move out of city shelters and into unlivable homes in New Jersey.
It’s called the Special One-Time Assistance Program, or SOTA. The city pays private landlords one year’s rent up front.
In February, DHS Commissioner Steve Banks told CBS the agency changed its inspection process in October.
“That can’t happen again,” he said.
“We wasn’t told about any inspection of the apartment,” Cureton said.
Another SOTA recipient who asked CBS2 to keep her identity private says she was also moved by New York City from one uninhabitable home in Newark to another. She also lives in the building, and showed CBS2 floors caving in.
Landlord Joanne Johnson claims New York inspectors approved both apartments.
“If the apartment wasn’t habitable she would be living there,” Johnson said.
“There’s mice feces and roach droppings everywhere,” Rozner said.
“Well, she hasn’t said it to me,” Johnson said. “We have a licensed exterminator that comes here.”
The family, originally from the Bronx, say last year DHS told them they earned too much money to qualify for housing assistance in New York.
“It feels like we were just kicked out of New York and that’s our hometown, that’s where we grew up and we love it,” Cummings said. “I definitely the displacement.”
Newark officials say over over the last few months, New York has sent 25% more residents – a total of 1,200.
“We’re going to force them to stop, because we can’t afford the bill,” said Keyatta Stewart, corporation counsel of Newark.
Of the families CBS2 has profiled, several have wound up back in a shelter. One moved to Florida, and two tell us only because of our reporting they found a place they feel like they can call home.
Clearly problems with SOTA persist.
A DHS spokesperson tells CBS2 the agency is immediately reviewing these troubling allegations.
He claims staff inspected the units under a strengthened process, and at that time, these issues were not apparent.