Mayor Bill de Blasio has a growing problem across the river.
"You know it's really difficult when the mayor of New York — who calls himself a progressive mayor and he campaigned on an issue of equality and making his city more affordable — that he takes the people in the most challenging aspect of their lives and ships them out of town," Elizabeth, New Jersey, Mayor Chris Bollwage said. "I am not sure that is equality in any way, shape, or form."
The Democratic mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, told NY1 on Friday that he will join a lawsuit against a controversial homeless policy from de Blasio.
"We will file in federal court in seeking to join in the Newark lawsuit and intervene in that lawsuit," Bollwage said.
Democratic Newark Mayor Ras Baraka sued the city earlier this week, claiming the program, known as Special One-Time Assistance, or SOTA, puts a burden on his community.
The program sends homeless families to communities across the country to get stable housing, often in cheaper neighborhoods than the five boroughs. The city pays a full year of rent up front and is supposed to inspect apartments to make sure they are in good condition.
The lawsuit and a city watchdog investigation this week found families are put in substandard housing, with vermin and no heat:
1,198 families have been sent to Newark since its inception. The city says 35 have been sent to Elizabeth.
"It is extremely difficult for New York City, even though it's a very altruistic manner on their behalf, to transform their problems to cities in New Jersey," Bollwage said. "There are over 60 cities in New Jersey to take people in from New York — with no conversation, by the way."
De Blasio has defended the program, including earlier Friday.
"My objection to what Newark has done is they are demonizing the poor," he said on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. "If there literally are not enough apartments to turn to — no matter how many we keep building, there's just not enough — and it's a right now program…we look to the region."
Thursday night, the Union County Board of Freeholders also passed a resolution urging the New Jersey state attorney general to get involved and help put a stop to the program.
These leaders in New Jersey obviously want this program discontinued permanently. If not that, then they want New York City to pick up the bill for social services for these families moving forward.
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