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Newark Mayor Sues New York City Over Relocation of Homeless Population to New Jersey

Wednesday, December 4, 2019  
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by Emma Coleman - Route Fifty

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s administration filed a lawsuit against the city of New York and Mayor Bill De Blasio this week, claiming that New York has sent nearly 1,200 homeless people to Newark recently through a rent-subsidy program. The program, run by the NYC Department of Social Services, offers a year of rent to get people off the streets. De Blasio’s administration has directed many recipients into New Jersey rentals, which Newark’s lawyers argue violates federal commerce laws which prevent states from enacting policies that place economic burdens on other states. “This application challenges Defendants’ ill-conceived, surreptitious efforts to shift the burdens associated with the homeless to other communities in this nation, by forcing [homeless people] to accept the proverbial ‘offer they can’t refuse,’” reads the suit. Newark’s corporation counsel Kenyatta Stewart also said that the program is coercing homeless people into uninhabitable or illegal housing that sometimes lacks heat and electricity. “New York has continued to send people despite us having several discussions about our problems with their program. We need to get a judge involved so they can stop shipping people to Newark,” Stewart said. Isaac McGinn, the spokesman for New York’s Department of Homeless Services, said that the cities could work together on helping homeless people. “We of course share Newark’s concern about unscrupulous landlords and we have strengthened our programs to protect those we serve. We look forward to working with Newark on these issues," he said. But Newark is seeking an end to the program, a list of addresses for the families who moved to the city, and a fund to accommodate families who want to stay in Newark after their year of free rent is over. De Blasio said he was surprised by the suit. “I believe and I thought we were all trying to work toward common solutions, and I still want to work toward those common solutions—that’s my attitude,” De Blasio said.

[Politico; New York Post;]