Updated 11/29/2011 08:23 AM
City Council Expected To Sue Bloomberg Administration Over New Homeless Shelter Rules
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The City Council is expected to file a lawsuit against Mayor Michael's Bloomberg administration, seeking to halt a new rule that the council says will make it harder for homeless people to get shelter.
Council sources tell NY1 that members of the General Welfare Committee will cast its vote Tuesday on the resolution, and, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support, it is expected to pass.
It comes shortly after the Department of Homeless Services announced a new procedure weeding out those who need shelter, and those who could stay elsewhere.
The department will require applicants for housing to detail where they've stayed before, and have clear evidence that they have no other alternatives.
It's done for families now, and City Hall calls it a reasonable way to ensure that only those needing a shelter get space.
But critics calls it cruel and punitive, particularly when it pits the mentally ill and addicted against a vast bureaucracy.
Quinn says the policy was imposed without enough legally-required notice.
"Clearly things have to be told to the public, and that has not happened," Quinn said Monday. "I would argue it hasn't happened 'cause it's a bad policy. You don't promote things you're not proud of."
But Homeless Services commissioner Seth Diamond says it's about focussing resources for those who really need it.
"We think that we have a very strong policy," Diamond told NY1.
Taxpayers demand more accountability, he says – though he notes that only modest savings are expected.
To homeless advocates like Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless, it's penny pinching on the backs of the vulnerable.
"Anybody who's spent a night in a city shelter, particularly one of the men's shelters, knows that if you've got a better housing option then you're not going to be running over to the Bellevue Shelter on the east side of Manhattan to get a cot to sleep on in a room with fifty other men."
In response, Commissioner Diamond said that "Our policy shouldn't be frozen in time; they should reflect the realities of today. And the realities are that many people have other options."
The issue has placed long-time allies on the opposite sides.
The city council has sued the other side of City Hall before – but never under Quinn, who's enjoyed a close relationship with Bloomberg. She says she never personally talked with him about the suit.
"It says nothing about my relationship with the mayor," Quinn said Monday.
Quinn said she plans on bringing it up in their weekly meeting.