ELIZABETH, NJ—Mayor J. Christian Bollwage announced on Tuesday that the City of Elizabeth is strongly considering going forward in joining Newark in intervening or teaming up with the County of Union in a Class Action lawsuit against New York City over a controversial program that sent homeless families to live in New Jersey. The City of Elizabeth alone had a total of forty-eight (48) units occupied by those relocated.
According to New York City’s website, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Special One-Time Assistance Program (SOTA) “provides one year's full rent upfront for eligible DHS clients to move within New York City, to other New York State counties, or to another state, Puerto Rico, or Washington, DC. SOTA can be accessed by working individuals and families and those who receive SSI, SSD, etc. as long as there is the future ability to make rent payments based on the household's rent not exceeding 50% of the household's income. Families with children must have been in a shelter for at least 90 days and single adults or adult families must have been in a shelter for 90 days out of the last 365 days.”
As of October, the City of New York has sent local homeless families to over 350 cities across the country with a year’s worth of rent paid in full as part of SOTA, where typically, the receiving city is unaware of the arrivals.
“The lack of communication and the underhandedness of New York City to relieve some of their homeless problems to our City is despicable,” said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “Clearly, this homeless relocation program has not been thought through or seemingly, Mayor de Blasio does not care where these people are being moved to, the impact these programs are having on the cities they are sending them to or where they will end up after their year in the program is up. I guess once they are out of his city, he really doesn’t care what happens to them.”
Relocation can shift the costs of homelessness to other cities or states if these individuals in the program cannot be entirely self-sufficient after that first year or find the proper services to assist them when their temporary program ends. SOTA not only adds extra weight to the City’s extant homeless population, but it contributes to the Elizabeth Public School system, which is already overcapacity.
Councilwoman-At-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste planed to ask the Law Department to introduce an ordinance at the Council Meeting.
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