Democratic presidential candidate New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in September that the city had made it illegal to threaten to call ICE based on a discriminatory motive or to tell someone “go back to your country” with the saying: “Hate has no place here.”
However, his Special One-Time Assistance Program (SOTA), which started in August 2017 tells a different story. For the past 2 years, the program has sent more than 12,000 homeless people to other states, without telling the receiving cities.
SOTA pays the homeless a year’s worth of rent if they leave town, while the receiving city knows nothing about it. New York has reportedly relocated homeless families to 373 other cities. Since the program started, $89 million was spent on rent to move 5,074 homeless families (12,482 individuals) out of the city. The New York Post reported that the city also provides the homeless with travel expenses through a separate taxpayer-funded program called “Project Reconnect,” but would not divulge how much it spent.
“We were initially seeing a lot of complaints about the conditions. Now that the program has been in operation long enough that the SOTA subsidy is expiring, one of our main concerns is it might not be realistic for people to be entirely self-sufficient after that first year,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless.
About 56 percent of the families move out of the state, costing the city an average of $15,600 in annual rent. Thirty-five percent move within city limits with an average rent of $20,500 and 9 percent move elsewhere in New York state, costing approximately $17,900, according to the news outlet.
The news shocked some pols in towns taking in NYC refugees.
Michael Yenni, president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, responded when The Post told him the community is among the SOTA destinations, “So in other words, if someone is in a shelter, y’all will give them money to go somewhere else if they have been there for 90 days? And some of those people have been sent to Metairie?”
“I’m not in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s shoes. I don’t sit behind his desk, and I never will, but it’s certainly interesting. You have shocked me down here in beautiful southeast Louisiana,” he said.
Samuel Newson, the mayor of Willacoochee, Georgia, was also stunned. “I’m not familiar with none of that,” he said.
Newark city spokesman Mark Di Ionno said that the city, which has 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.”
Some SOTA recipients have also attacked the program.
Sade Collington, her husband, and two children moved back into a Bronx shelter after relocating to an East Orange, New Jersey, apartment that had no water, heat or electricity.
“It was completely unlivable. We could not stay there any longer. We went to a shelter for another six months,” she said.
Collington has filed a notice of claim against the city indicating she plans to sue over the ordeal.
Despite the SOTA investigation ongoing, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Isaac McGinn said the city “remains committed to using every tool at our disposal to help these families and individuals find stability in the ways that work for them.”
“Any American, including any New Yorker experiencing homelessness, has the right to seek housing where they can afford it and employment where they can find it,” he said.
New York welcomed illegal aliens but trying to move homeless people out of its city. Isn’t it go against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s saying “Hate has no place here?”