Appeals Court Grants A Stay Stopping The City From Cutting Off Rent Subsidies for 15,000 Formerly Homeless Families and Individuals

The Appellate Division, First Department, issued an order today stopping the City from cutting off Advantage rent subsidy payments for 15,000 formerly homeless families and individuals. The appellate court's ruling will remain in place pending an appeal that will be heard in September.

The Legal Aid Society, with the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP serving as pro bono counsel, had filed a class action lawsuit on March 28, 2011 seeking a class-wide injunction to prevent the City from stopping Advantage rent subsidies for these 15,000 vulnerable households before their Advantage subsidy agreements expire. In those agreements, the City had guaranteed rent subsidy payments on behalf of these families and individuals to landlords who agreed to rent apartments to them.

"This decision prevents thousands of formerly homeless children and adults from facing eviction and repeat homelessness this Summer," said Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society. "These families and individuals would never have moved into these apartments that they cannot afford without these subsidies." Banks said that "the City's plan to let these 15,000 formerly homeless Advantage families and individuals get evicted and become homeless again would have led to contempt of long-standing right to shelter orders and a return to millions of dollars in contempt fines that we thought were a thing of the past."

Debra Dandeneau, a partner at Weil, said that "we are extremely pleased that the Appellate Division agreed with our argument that these are enforceable contracts that the City cannot breach. It is in no one's interest to see these 15,000 families and individuals become homeless again."

After the Society and Weil Gotshal sued the City on behalf of these 15,000 formerly homeless New Yorkers, New York County Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische issued a temporary restraining order. The Advantage case is currently set for trial in New York State Supreme Court this Summer.

Steven Banks, Judith Goldiner, Jane Sujen Bock, and Joshua Goldfein are handling the case for The Legal Aid Society with paralegal support provided by Christina Schrum-Herrera. Representing the plaintiffs from Weil, Gotshal are Konrad Cailteux, Debra Dandeneau, Isabella Lacayo, Jesse Morris, Adam Lavine, Emily Pincow, Saima Majid, Arielle Lenza and Frank Grese and paralegal Elizabeth McConville.