De Blasio Deports Thousands of Homeless Families Across America

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: A homeless person eats on a side walk near Time Square on December 10, 2019 in New York City. The controversial program, Special One-Time Assistance, or SOTA, sends homeless families to lower cost communities across the nation. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Cities across the United States are grappling with large homeless populations, but New York City decided to deal with the problem by relocating those sleeping in the streets or in shelters to other American cities.

The New York Post reported that city records show that homeless people have been sent to 373 American cities.

The Post also reported that since the program started in 2017, New York has relocated 5,074 families, or 12,482 people, to other areas in the city, the state, and around the country.

Cities selected for homeless relocation include several in New Jersey and Georgia, according the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A New York City program that relocates its homeless to other cities around the country is drawing fire from Marietta leaders who say they learned it was happening from a newspaper article.

Marietta city councilmembers say they want answers about how New York runs its Special One-Time Assistance program, which provides one year’s rent for eligible clients to relocate within the city, other New York state cities or other states.

The program is the subject of a lawsuit filed Dec. 1 by the city of Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the destination cities for New York’s homeless. The lawsuit argues the program pressures desperate homeless to accept substandard housing conditions and that slumlords benefit from the city’s program that pays for a year’s rent with no checks on the living conditions.

AJC reported that Marietta City Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said she was “astonished” when she read of the NYC program in the Post.

The Post reported on the extent of the program across the country:

From the tropical shores of Honolulu and Puerto Rico, to the badlands of Utah and backwaters of Louisiana, the Big Apple has sent local homeless families to 373 cities across the country with a full year of rent in their pockets as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Special One-Time Assistance Program.” Usually, the receiving city knows nothing about it.

City taxpayers have spent $89 million on rent alone since the program’s August 2017 inception to export 5,074 homeless families — 12,482 individuals — to places as close as Newark and as far as the South Pacific, according to Department of Homeless Services data obtained by The Post. Families who once lived in city shelters decamped to 32 states and Puerto Rico.

The city also paid travel expenses, through a separate taxpayer-funded program called Project Reconnect, but would not divulge how much it spent. A Friday flight to Honolulu for four people would cost about $1,400. A bus ticket to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the same family would cost $800. Not only are officials in towns where the city’s homeless land up in arms, but hundreds of the homeless families are returning to the five boroughs — and some are even suing NYC over being abandoned in barely livable conditions. 

Sade Collington, her husband, and two children returned to a Bronx shelter after being relocated to an East Orange, New Jersey, apartment that lacked water, heat, or electricity.

“It was completely unlivable,” said Collington, who added she planned to sue the city.

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