Court Decision Protects Single Adults from Being Denied Shelter

Today, a court ruling declared that the Bloomberg administration violated the City’s rulemaking process when they announced they were putting in place new eligibility rules for homeless single adults back in November. The proposed eligibility rules would have denied shelter to countless single adults who couldn’t “prove” they had nowhere else to go. Today’s decision essentially stops the City from implementing these misguided eligibility rules and constitutes a big victory for homeless adults.

Both the Legal Aid Society and the City Council were instrumental in winning this decision and we thank them immensely for their hard work. Although the legal fight will undoubtedly continue, we are grateful that this first decision keeps valuable protections in place for homeless single adults.

The Coalition for the Homeless put out the following statement:

“The Court’s decision puts a stop to the Department of Homeless Services’ misguided and dangerous plan to erect new bureaucratic barriers at the shelter door, measures that would lead to more homeless adults sleeping on the streets and the subways in the middle of winter. It should not have taken a judge to stop the City from implementing this dangerous policy. The Coalition thanks New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for her leadership, and the dedicated legal team at the Legal Aid Society and WilmerHale for their work on the case.”

Additionally, City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, and General Welfare Committee Chair Annabel Palma put out the following statement:

“Today’s Court ruling declaring the Department of Homeless Services’ eligibility requirements for single homeless adults unlawful is a tremendous victory and I commend the Court for its action. The Council has long argued that DHS’ proposed policy would have needlessly put thousands of homeless New Yorkers on the streets by requiring them to provide proof they have nowhere else to stay. This was a wrong-headed policy that put a burden of proof on people who could least shoulder it.

Our city’s homeless people need to be helped – not hindered – in their efforts to locate shelter. The Court’s confirmation that policy changes such as this one must be subject to public notice and comment will ensure that we will be able to work with DHS to create a new policy that will protect, not hurt, the City’s homeless. Moreover, this decision is a victory for all New Yorkers, because it reaffirms that the administration cannot ignore Charter provisions that require agencies to be transparent and accountable to the public. I would like to thank Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless for their tireless work on this case and for homeless New Yorkers every day.”

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