BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- New York City officials refute any claims of wrongdoing, days after Broome County Executive Jason Garnar claimed the city was using an assistance program to illegally ship homeless people to Broome County.
This comes after New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks sent a letter to Nancy Williams, the Broome County Department of Social Services Commissioner regarding the SOTA program.
In the letter, the NYS DSS called allegations that the city is using the program to illegally send homeless families to Broome County and shifting the responsibility of their care "patently false," and says the SOTA program does not violate the law..
Banks notes there are 20 households in the NYC DSS' system with a last-known address in Broome County and that, like the cases of individuals relocating to Broome County, have the right to travel.
He went on to explain different NYC programs and reforms have helped prevent people from becoming homeless, noting the last four years have seen a 27 percent decrease in evictions, with more than 70,000 New Yorkers avoiding losing their homes since 2014.
Banks also says those who do become hopeless are helped back on their feet through NYC one-time assistance programs. He lists SOTA as a "refinement" of those efforts.
The SOTA program provides one year of rent to those who qualify for the assistance and are transitioning to their new home.
The commissioner claims the SOTA assistance is given to those who have the future ability to pay rent after 12 months. Banks says the five initial cases of recipients in Broome County were determined to be able to meet that requirement.
Banks finished the letter by saying the NYC DSS is available to discuss the matter with Broome DSS, "as we have been since you first brought this to our attention before you chose to attack these families and a program designed to help them in your media blitz."
In response to Commissioner Banks' letter to Broome County, Garnar said in a statement, “It is clear New York City has no intent to stop sending people to Broome County through this cynical and illegal program. We will see them in court.”