Legal Aid and Patterson Belknap File Suit Against Pathways For Failing to Pay Rent For Hundreds Of Mentally Disabled New Yorkers Who Are In Danger Of Eviction

The Legal Aid Society and the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP brought a class action lawsuit in State Supreme Court, New York County, against Pathways, for failing to pay rent for mentally disabled New Yorkers who are in danger of eviction. They were successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order so the evictions are stayed.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the mentally disabled New Yorkers and the Coalition for the Homeless. Pathways is a non profit that was supposed to arrange their housing and pay the rent. Some 1,300 eviction notices have gone out in the last four years.

Lucy Newman, a Staff Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit, told the Daily News that “many, many people are at imminent risk of eviction” because Pathways has repeatedly lagged in making rental payments to private landlords.

"We are proud to be working with The Legal Aid Society on behalf of Coalition for the Homeless, a not-for-profit that serves chronically homeless individuals, and at-risk individuals with histories of chronic homelessness and mental illness to ensure that these clients, clients of Pathways to Housing, Inc., are afforded the opportunity to remain in independent living arrangements and obtain the supportive services Pathways contracted to provide to them" said Lisa E. Cleary, a partner at Patterson Belknap.. "In seeking and being granted a temporary restraining order by Justice Coin, we are ensuring that no Pathways client will be at risk of homelessness and loss of other supportive services as winter approaches."

Legal Aid attorneys handling the case include Judith Goldiner, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit; Staff Attorney Lucy C. Newman; and Staff Attorney Robert Desir. Lawyers fro Patterson Belknap included Lisa E. Cleary, Vivian Storm, Matthew Webb, and Adam E. Pinto.

New York Daily News
Pathways failed to pay rent for disabled, forcing them to face evictions: lawsuit
BY Barbara Ross 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A nonprofit that provides housing and social services to mentally disable people throughout the city and Westchester was sued Tuesday because it has “routinely failed” to pay their clients’ rent and have forced dozens to face evictions, court papers say.

The class action lawsuit against Pathways was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on behalf of the group’s 750 clients who pay the nonprofit up to 30% of their monthly disability checks to cover their rent. The state Office of Mental Health pays the balance.

Lucy Freeman, a Legal Aid Society lawyer, said that “many, many people are at imminent risk of eviction” because Pathways has repeatedly lagged in making rental payments to private landlords.

The plaintiffs want the court to halt any ongoing eviction proceedings for Pathways clients in all five boroughs.