Cryan-Scutari Bill Would Help Prevent NYC’s Mistreatment of the Homeless

Trenton – A senate committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan and Senator Nick Scutari that would help prevent the mistreatment of the homeless by New York City’s program that relocates people from the city’s housing shelters to other communities, including those in New Jersey.

The bill, S-889, would prohibit landlords from accepting housing assistance vouchers provided by another state in order to relocate a homeless person to New Jersey, where they often end up in substandard housing that quickly expires and leaves them with no support services.

“New York City’s program mistreats a vulnerable population by relocating them to New Jersey without services to address the problems that contributed to their homelessness and short-term housing that leaves them out on the streets again,” said Senator Cryan. “This is a regional problem that needs a broader, more coordinated solution. Breaking the cycle of homelessness means addressing social issues, such as health care and job training. It can’t be solved by relocation to other communities.”

New York City launched a program giving residents of homeless shelters one-year rental vouchers they can use in other states. New Jersey has absorbed 2,226 families under the so-called “Special One-Time Assistance” program.

“The people who are relocated are often taken advantage of as well,” said Senator Scutari. “The landlords can place them in apartments that have not passed inspection and, because they are paid up front for a full year, they have no incentive to fix any problems with the units. Many of the costs are then forced on communities here in New Jersey.”

NYC’s Department of Investigation issued a report in December 2019 that was harshly critical of the program.

The bill was approved on Thursday by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.