LAS Wins Emergency Motion to Protect Disabled Homeless New Yorkers

The Legal Aid Society and Jenner & Block LLP, on behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless, Center for Independence of the Disabled, and homeless New Yorkers, in coordination with the Safety Net Project at the Urban Justice Center, have won a Temporary Restraining Order to halt future moves of disabled homeless New Yorkers from their existing hotel placements until the City comes up with a more detailed plan to protect their rights, as reported by the New York Daily News.

The order requires the City of New York and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to present a credible plan to relocate the clients remaining in hotels, as well as a procedure to look back at the cases of people already moved, and a realistic schedule to ensure any future moves will be conducted in compliance with the law.

In their rush to return New Yorkers to congregate shelters, the Defendants have repeatedly violated the requirements of the stipulation in Butler v. City of New York by moving class members without sufficient regard for their rights and dignity. Without essential safeguards in place, homeless individuals will continue to incur immediate and irreparable injury.

“This ruling is a victory for homeless New Yorkers with disabilities,” said Joshua Goldfein, a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project. “The order ensures DHS must implement proper protocols before they transfer a client and to verify that clients are going to a place that can serve their specific needs.”

“The problem here has been that the mayor insisted that this happen immediately,” he continued. “The (Department of Homeless Services) I think knew that they couldn’t meet that goal, but they were given no choice. And the result was predictable — it was chaos and very vulnerable people were harmed.”