The city’s Department of Homeless Services won court approval last Tuesday to deny shelter to families it doesn’t consider homeless. Before now, all families requesting assistance were provided with temporary housing of some sort. In April, the city requested permission to change this policy, arguing that ineligible reapplicants were congesting its troubled intake center, now slated for reconstruction. Advocates filed a cross-motion, demanding that the city stop turning away families without first determining whether they have other housing “actually available” to them. State Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman granted both sides their motions, potentially setting the stage for further litigation. Steve Banks, attorney in chief at the Legal Aid Society of New York, said he hopes it won’t come to that. “By nature, I’m an optimist,” he said. “But it’s important that the court will be there as a last resort.” The new policy will be phased in gradually over the next few weeks. (C. Feldman) [08/22/05]
For a more comprehensive look at this debate, check out the Sept/Oct issue of City Limits Magazine.