BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- New York State Senator Fred Akshar is criticizing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over a program officials say is sending homeless people to Broome County
Sen. Akshar issued the statement following an announcement from Broome County Executive Jason Garnar and other local officials on Thursday about New York City's Special One Time Assistance (SOTA).
County officials say the program illegally transfers people to other counties by offering to provide one full year of rent up front for an apartment for anyone who has been in a shelter for 90 days or more. Garnar says there have been five cases of New York City transferring responsibilities by paying a landlord in the county one year’s rent up front.
You can read Sen. Akshar's full statement below:
"New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio likes to pride himself on his 'progressive' bonafides and how his agenda is raising the quality of life for low-income residents. While his agenda makes for catchy slogans and makes him a media darling, the truth of Bill de Blasio’s New York is far more shameful and appalling.
In Bill de Blasio’s New York, indigent people are struggling with serious substance abuse and mental wellness issues. Many of these people are veterans, or women and children fleeing from domestic violence or inhospitable living conditions. Rather than use city resources to help these men, women and children, Bill de Blasio has let them fall through the cracks, content to let them live in costly, yet substandard and ramshackle 'cluster sites.'
There are now a record 60,000 people living in shelters, with a Manhattan Institute study showing adults are staying in shelters an average of 383 days each. That’s a nearly three-month increase in days spent in a shelter since 2013, the year Bill de Blasio took office. And what’s his plan to fix this? Rent some buses and get the problem out of sight and out of mind.
Whether he likes it or not, Mayor de Blasio has a moral obligation to the people of New York City. Rather than take real steps to address mental and physical wellness or engage in public-private partnerships to create better housing and opportunities for homeless and low-income residents, Bill de Blasio is putting homeless New Yorkers on buses, tossing them some rent money and sending them them elsewhere. Instead of treating unwell and struggling veterans, women and children like human beings, he’s herding them like cattle onto buses and shipping them to Broome County for someone else to take care of.
The people of the Southern Tier and Broome County support and take care their own, in good times and bad. We don't ship our struggling neighbors elsewhere for others to 'deal with' and call ourselves 'progressives.' Now, NYC Mayor de Blasio wants Broome County residents to foot the bill for his negligence, malfeasance and failed policies that are unable to fulfill the most basic obligations for his residents. It’s shameful that Bill de Blasio is willing to shirk his own responsibilities as Mayor, as the leader of one of the wealthiest and most successful cities in the world, and let others pay the cost of his failures.
Shame on Bill de Blasio for lacking the moral courage to actually help those who need it, and instead choosing to uproot people from the city they’ve called home. When the Mayor said New York was 'a tale of two cities,' I don’t think even his staunchest ally thought this was the solution he had in mind.
Broome County officials argue that the deBlasio's administration is doing all of this illegally, and I'll be following their legal actions closely. But I'm also calling on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to fully investigate the legality of this morally bankrupt practice.
My first responsibility as state senator is to protect the people I represent. I will not allow Bill de Blasio to shift his responsibilities onto the people of my district. I pledge to the people of Broome County and the Southern Tier that I will stand up for them and work protect their interests from the cowardice of Bill de Blasio and his administration."
BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Broome County Executive Jason Garnar was joined by Nancy Williams, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services and other local leaders to announce that Broome County has demanded New York City's Human Resources Administration stop using its Special One Time Assistance (SOTA) program to illegally transfer homeless people from NYC to the county.
County officials say that, according to the New York City Dept. of Social Services, the SOTA program provides one full year of rent up front for an apartment for anyone who has been in a shelter for 90 days or more and relocates New York City's clients to other counties.
"That could place a burden on Broome County," Williams said. "It is our job to take care of our residents and its New York Cities Job to take care of their residents."
According to Garnar's office, the Broome County Department of Social Services identified five cases this year in which NYC transferred its responsibilities to Broome County by paying a landlord in the county one year’s rent up front.
According to the New York City Department of Social Services another eligibility requirement is the person must be working and/or have enough income to make future rent payments.That is where Broome County's legal council has one of its biggest problems. County Attorney Howard Schultz says he doesn't believe the families coming here can afford to live without help.
"These five families that have come up here were on long-term assistance within the city, and the city didn't do what they needed to do to fix that situation," he said. "So the likelihood, it is very foreseeable after the 12 months they will also be seeking rental assistance from Broome County."
Legal council from New York City will be getting back to Broome County about this program next week, according to Schultz.
12 News streamed the announcement live on our Facebook page. You can watch it below.
You can read the SOTA guild lines here: ?