NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A controversial New York City program has been put on hold, and it’s sending shock waves throughout the region and even in the country.
After months of CBS2’s reporting on homeless families being sent out of the city to live in run-down conditions, there’s a deal in Newark to finally make serious changes, Lisa Rozner reported Tuesday.
The deal was agreed upon Monday night between officials in New York City and Newark to stop the program, for now, and make good faith efforts to work together.
But a lawsuit filed against the Big Apple is far from over. In fact, Rozner learned on Tuesday that more governments could join in.
It took more than seven hours of closed-door meetings with attorneys and a federal judge, but New York City has agreed to fork over the addresses of where it secretly relocated 1,200 working homeless families to Newark.
Through the Special One-Time Assistance program, or SOTA, landlords were paid one year’s rent upfront. Over the past year CBS2 found some living in deplorable conditions.
The cities plan to now collaboratively inspect all units.
CBS2’s urban affairs expert Mark Peters said this opens the door for New York to work with others, too.
“Certainly, every other municipality in New Jersey is going to make the same demand, and I think New York City will be very hard pressed not to grant that,” Peters said.
Elizabeth’s lawyer was also in court Monday, as that city is legally requesting to join Newark’s lawsuit. East Orange, where more than 200 families were placed, is not filing suit, but has formally requested the same info about SOTA families from New York City.
New Jersey Deputy Senate Minority Leader Robert Singer said he spoke with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s staff about this after sending a letter Monday.
“They are working and negotiating right now with New York City about this,” Singer said. “If necessary, we’ll bring in the governor of New York about this, because he has a responsibility here, too.”
Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is the former mayor of Newark. He said he agrees with Newark’s efforts to obtain info about families there.
“The first concern should be the well being of the homeless people and seeing their dignity and their divinity, in my opinion. Are we really doing the best to take care of them if we’re not even having communication coming on between municipalities? This seems just woefully unacceptable to me,” Booker said.
“New York City clearly intends to continue the SOTA program, and if they can’t come to some kind of agreement with Newark, then it looks like they’re going to fight this lawsuit and fight for the right to continue the SOTA program, despite the really bad results that your reporting has demonstrated we’ve really seen from the program,” Peters said.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano told Rozner he wants the SOTA program to stop sending families to his city and has requested information about the families that have already been placed there. If he doesn’t get it, he said he’s also considering legal action.
Meanwhile, the lawyers for Newark and New York City will be back before a judge on Thursday morning.