Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced today that the City of Newark and New York City made collaborative progress in addressing the issues between the two municipalities created by New York’s SOTA program, which moved about 1,200 New York homeless families and individuals to Newark apartments, regardless of their habitability, paying their rents for a year.
Under the collaborative agreement created in a day-long discussion between the two cities’ attorneys at the Martin Luther King U.S. District Courthouse in Newark today, New York agreed to a temporary pause in sending new families and residents to Newark pending the court’s ruling on the injunction requests on this issue. New York also agreed to provide Newark with a confidential list of persons who were moved here and their addresses. Newark and New York will work together to inspect those apartments and homes for housing code violations. Any such violations will be enforced by the City of Newark and landlords will be charged for them in Newark Municipal or Essex County Superior Court, as appropriate.
“So far, we’ve gotten much of what we asked for and we look forward to continue to work collaboratively with New York City to improve the quality of life for their S.O.T.A. recipients,” said Mayor Baraka. “For us, this was always about making sure these people were in safe and sanitary housing, and they were handled in a dignified manner, not just jettisoned here with no safety nets.”
New York City created a Special One-Time Assistance Program (SOTA) to provide their homeless shelter residents with a year of free apartment rent, paid up-front to landlords, to move within or outside the city. Numbers of these residents are coming to Newark.
“It was imperative to us that we get a list of who these people are and where they were housed so we could make our social services available to them, and make sure they weren’t being taken advantage of by bad landlords,” the Mayor said. “We want our code enforcement rules and ordinances respected. We are a sovereign city. No one should be able to come in and circumvent our rules. Now New York will work with us to enforce our codes in SOTA. housing. It’s important we put a hold on this program until we can work collaboratively with New York to do what is best for these people. Our priority was, and is, the safety, dignity and chance to succeed for these people. Now we can work together to make sure those three goals are met.”
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