New York City Housing Authority Forces 3,000 Low Income Families Into Homelessness, Federal Lawsuit Charges
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2009

The New York City Housing Authority is forcing approximately 3,000 low-income families into homelessness by cutting a federal rent subsidy program that will cause these families to lose their home, a federal lawsuit filed today charges.

The class action lawsuit, Yoanson vs. New York City Housing Authority, seeks injunctive and declaratory relief on behalf of the low income individuals and families who were found eligible for Section 8 vouchers but were denied the housing when their vouchers were withdrawn by NYCHA because of federal budget cuts and an increased use of the rent subsidy program during the economic downturn. The named plaintiffs are a disabled single father, a 19-year-old college student and foster child who is aging out of foster care and a single mother of two children.

“It would take $28 million to save this essential program,” said Judith Goldiner, a supervising attorney at The Legal Aid Society, who is representing the plaintiffs. “Instead, the City would rather spend $108 million in homeless shelter costs and force low-income families, survivors of domestic violence, children aging out of foster care and disabled senior citizens into the streets.” The 3,018 families will become homeless within months, she said. The law firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP is serving as co-counsel which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Over 1,800 of the families were formerly homeless and placed into apartments by the Department of Homeless Services and cannot afford the rent without the vouchers; nearly 400 are survivors of domestic violence who require the vouchers to escape their abusers, more than 130 are youth aging out of foster care, approximately 600 are marginally housed families who are paying more than 50 % of their income in rent and almost 50 are witnesses in police investigations who are threatened by criminal defendants.

View the full complaint (PDF)