New York City is spreading its homeless crisis across the nation by quietly sending homeless people to other cities in the U.S., all without giving the receiving cities a heads up.
The city has deployed local homeless families to 373 cities across the U.S.— from Honolulu to Louisiana— with a year’s worth of rent as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Special One-Time Assistance Program,” without alerting local officials in those cities, the New York Post reported.
The Post reported that city taxpayers spent $89 million on rent to ship 5,074 homeless families—or 12,482 individuals— out of the city since the program started in August 2017.
The families, initially housed in the city’s shelters, were sent to 32 states and far-flung locales such as Puerto Rico.
The city also doled out money for travel expenses through another city taxpayer-funded program called Project Reconnect, but there was no word on how much the city spent on this program.
The Department of Homeless Services defended the high costs of the program, saying that housing the homeless in city-run shelters costs $41,000 per family per year compared with the average yearly rent of $17,563 to transplant families elsewhere.
Even though the agency claims it is saving money, the cities on the receiving end of the program are reportedly not happy.
Newark city spokesman Mark Di Ionno said that the city—home to 1,198 families who are part of the program— is “in the process of passing an ordinance to ban New York from sending us SOTA clients.”
New York’s state senate also opened an investigation into New York City’s program to ship the homeless to cities in upstate New York.
According to the Coalition for the Homeless, 63,839 men, women, and children in New York City slept in homeless shelters for the night in January 2019.