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City No Longer Has to Pay Rent for Formerly Homeless: Court

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A court has ruled that New York City is no longer required to pay rent for 11,000 formerly homeless individuals and families that are receiving a housing subsidy funded by the city and the state.  

The city announced last spring that it would stop funding the housing vouchers after the state pulled its share of funds from what's called the Advantage Housing program.

On Thursday, a state appellate court dissolved a preliminary injunction requiring payments to continue.

Steve Banks of Legal Aid said that by winning this legal challenge the city is actually losing. "Because if it stops paying rent for 11,000 homeless families and individuals, they will lose their housing and come right back into the shelter system which is in nobody's interest.” Banks said.

Legal Aid had filed suit this past spring arguing that families would never have left the shelter system and moved into apartments they could not afford had the city not guaranteed the rent would be paid for up to two years.

The city countered that the program is a social service benefit, and therefore subject to changes in funding. A lower court agreed.

Legal Aid’s appeal will be heard next Thursday.

The Department of Homeless Services confirmed that the injunction had been lifted but would not say when it would stop paying people's rents.

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