NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After hours of closed door negotiations, New York City agreed Monday to temporarily stop sending homeless families to Newark.
For nearly a year, CBS2 has uncovered the Forgotten Families placed in deplorable homes across the river after New York City paid landlords one year’s rent upfront.
It’s known as SOTA, or the Special One-Time Assistance Program.
New York City attorneys were all smiles after more than seven hours of closed-door meetings with Newark attorneys and a federal judge, even though Newark is still suing New York City.
In the meantime, both cities agreed to urgently help the nearly 1,200 working homeless families currently living in Newark that were moved from New York City shelters through SOTA, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports.
“We want to make sure they are living in legitimate conditions,” said Kenyatta Stewart, corporation counsel for Newark.
“I think we have collaboratively taken a great step forward to work together to address the immediate issues,” said Gary Lipshutz, assistant corporation counsel for Newark.
So now, pending a confidentiality agreement, New York City will temporarily stop all new SOTA placements in Newark. New York City will also share all the addresses of current SOTA recipients with Newark, and New York City and Newark will together inspect those units.
FORGOTTEN FAMILIES: Mayor Baraka Weighs In On Newark’s Lawsuit Against NYC
Shortly after, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if he’ll meet with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
“We’re in the context of litigation. We got to be smart. I’ll be careful about what I say, obviously, but I’m hoping that there’s some path forward,” he said.
Newark’s mayor said in a statement the city’s priority “was, and is, the safety, dignity and chance to succeed for these people.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson Freddi Goldstein released the following statement:
“This Administration wholeheartedly believes that people have the right to a roof over their heads and to choose where they want to live. In the spirit of productive conversations and with the goal of moving toward an improved program, we will be temporarily pausing placements in Newark. We will be back in court on Thursday and if a satisfactory agreement is not met, we will file a formal challenge to the ordinance the next day.”
The two sides will be back in court on Thursday. The lawsuit, which could put a definitive end to the SOTA program as it operates now, is still moving forward.
The city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is planning to join Newark’s lawsuit later this week, and Monday, two state senators asked New Jersey’s governor to get involved.