LAS Secures Improvements to Grant Program for Homeless New Yorkers

The Legal Aid Society and Lowenstein Sandler have secured a series of changes that will improve New York City’s Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) grants program, as reported by City Limits.

SOTA grants provide individuals with money to move out of homeless shelters and into permanent housing but the program was plagued by problems including poor housing conditions and unresponsive landlords.

Legal Aid intervened in a lawsuit about the program, and as a result, the Department of Homeless Services has enacted changes that will improve the City’s processes to make sure apartments are safe and landlords are held accountable. These changes will help tenants to stay in their new housing and avoid returning to shelters.

Although the changes are welcome, the city of Newark remains an obstacle to the program’s success. Newark is a popular destination for program participants because of its lower rents and public transportation to New York City, but it has an ordinance in place designed to block SOTA recipients. The Legal Aid Society is seeking through litigation to force Newark to accept those using the grants.

“New York City has made significant improvements to the SOTA program so that it could now be useful to many people who want to move out of shelter and resume their lives in the community,” said Josh Goldfein an attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project. “It is very frustrating that Newark has refused to consider revising its blatantly unconstitutional ordinance that blocks homeless New Yorkers from using the program to move there.”