4:40 pm Feb. 21, 20121
A city court ruled today that single homeless people don't have to prove that they have no other options before becoming eligible for admission to city homeless shelters. The ruling is a rejection of a city proposal that had already prompted the City Council to threaten a lawsuit against the administration.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted strongly to the ruling, defending the city's proposed policy change.
"The law requires that we provide shelter," said the mayor. "But you cannot say, ‘I’m tired of paying my rent, therefore the taxpayers of New York City should just pay my rent,' OK? That’s not reasonable."
The policy in question would require unmarried invidivuals to prove that they have no other place to live. When the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless found out about the new policy late last year, they filed suit in court.
During a hearing last month, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge was skeptical of the city's arguments.
Today, she ruled on the plaintiffs' behalf.
The city intends to appeal her ruling.
"Today’s ruling focused only on the administrative process used to communicate the eligibility procedure for single adults entering the City’s shelter system," said Seth Diamond, the commissioner of the department of homeless services, in a statement. "Judge Gische’s disappointing decision does not undermine the City’s strong reasons for developing this common sense procedure, nor does it make any determinations about its legality other than ruling on the method used to issue it. The City plans to appeal the decision.”
During the question-and-answer portion of a press conference this morning at the Brooklyn Public Library's central branch, the mayor indicated that the city would continue to seek to implement the new policy.
"We’re going to do everything we can to have the ability to do it," said Bloomberg. "Or let the judges explain to the public why they think that you should just have a right to walk in and say, 'Whether I need services or not, you give it to me.' I don’t think that’s what this country’s all about."
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