NEWARK, NJ — New York City has agreed to temporarily stop sending homeless families to Newark through the Special One-Time Assistance program pending the court’s ruling on an injunction over the issue.
Through SOTA an estimated 1,200 of New York City's homeless were relocated to Newark apartments, regardless of the spaces' living conditions, with no safety net beyond their one-year rental assistance.
The agreement between Newark and New York City was reached in a day-long discussion between the two cities’ attorneys at the Martin Luther King U.S. District Courthouse in Newark on Monday.
Newark last week sued New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio's administration over the program.
As part of the agreement reached Monday, New York City also agreed to provide Newark with a confidential list of persons who were moved to Newark and their addresses. The parties will work together to inspect those apartments and homes for housing code violations.
Any such violations will be enforced by the City of Newark and landlords will be charged for them in Newark Municipal or Essex County Superior Court, as appropriate.
“So far, we’ve gotten much of what we asked for and we look forward to continue to work collaboratively with New York City to improve the quality of life for their S.O.T.A. recipients,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “For us, this was always about making sure these people were in safe and sanitary housing, and they were handled in a dignified manner, not just jettisoned here with no safety nets.”
New York City created SOTA to provide their homeless shelter residents with a year of free apartment rent, paid up-front to landlords, to move within or outside New York City. Numbers of these residents are coming to Newark.
“It was imperative to us that we get a list of who these people are and where they were housed so we could make our social services available to them, and make sure they weren’t being taken advantage of by bad landlords,” Baraka said. “We want our code enforcement rules and ordinances respected. We are a sovereign city. No one should be able to come in and circumvent our rules."
"Now New York will work with us to enforce our codes in SOTA housing. It’s important we put a hold on this program until we can work collaboratively with New York to do what is best for these people. 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," he said.