Newark, New Jersey is taking New York City to court over its Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) program.
The Assistance program allegedly relocated homeless New Yorkers into horrible conditions in Newark. NBC reported that the residences are dilapidated and vermin-infested.
The SOTA program started in 2017, with the aim of relocating homeless NYC families across New Jersey’s biggest city, with a full year of rent paid upfront by the program.
Newark reports that they are not given notice of when SOTA participants are being relocated from the Big Apple, or to which locations within the city.
NBC reports that the suit — filed Monday in federal court by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s administration — names Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. It claims that NYC is violating interstate commerce rules by making families hurriedly sign leases for illegal and uninhabitable apartments.
The lawsuit states that Banks and de Blasio ignored complaints and issues raised by Newark authorities.
Court documents say that Newark believes over 1,000 families were placed in the city. Newark has been able to identify many SOTA recipients who were coerced to move there by being forced to accept “the proverbial ‘offer they can’t refuse,'” according to court documents. The complaint claims that NYC refused to disclose the identities of all SOTA recipients placed in Newark.
Newark was made aware of the sub-par living conditions of SOTA recipients via a complaint made by one individual directly to the city. Recipients claim in the suit that they were moved into homes after only inspecting them for 10 minutes, before being pressured into signing leases. It was also stated that there were major power and heat-related issues in their homes.
Newark is seeking a temporary restraining order against the de Blasio administration to cease the program in Newark. The complaint also asks for a list of families relocated to Newark and the rates they paid their landlords.
Newark is also demanding a fund from New York City to help accommodate those who want to stay in Newark.
Reuters assisted in the writing of this report.