Newark files lawsuit against NYC program that moves homeless families into other states

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A program that moves homeless families from New York City to other parts of the country is coming under scrutiny in Newark. 

Newark filed a lawsuit last week to keep the program out of the city, claiming that it puts many families in unsafe, uninhabitable homes. 

The program, called the Special One-Time Assistance Program, prepays rent for New York City homeless shelter residents in other cities around the country. 

On Monday, attorneys for Newark say they made a lot of progress at federal court toward what they call a “collaborative solution” between their city and New York City.

At the meeting, New York agreed to give Newark a list of the families that moved into the city and where they are living. Then, the two cities will conduct joint inspections of those properties. 

"We have collaboratively taken a great step forward to work together to address immediate issues, which are our concerns about winter coming and homeless population and housing,” said Newark Asst. Corporation Counsel Gary Lipshutz.

Both sides also agreed to temporarily suspend the SOTA program in Newark as the lawsuit and the discussions move forward.

The issue that remains is the aid from New York for those families once their year of prepaid rent runs out.

"We are asking for support for those while here and for those people at the end of the lease - if they stay here or travel back to New York or another address, to make sure have support they need,” said Newark Corporation Counsel Kenyatta Stewart.

There is no word on when Newark will receive the list of families placed in the city, or when the joint inspections will take place.

All parties will have a conference call on Thursday to ensure things are moving forward. 

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka released a statement that said it's important to put the program on hold so both cities can work together to what's best for the homeless population.  

"Our priority was, and is, the safety, dignity and chance to succeed for these people. Now we can work together to make sure those three goals are met,” said Baraka. 

Nearly 1,200 families have been placed in Newark since the program's start in 2017. 

The program also sends homeless people to many other New Jersey cities, including Elizabeth, Irvington and East Orange. 

 

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