New York City shipping homeless people across the country as part of controversial relocation programme

Hundreds of homeless residents say they eventually returned to the city's shelters after receiving the relocation assistance

Chris Riotta
New York
@chrisriotta
Tuesday 05 November 2019 15:58
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A new report details how New York City has sent thousands of homeless families to live across the country as part of a controversial assistance programme.
A new report details how New York City has sent thousands of homeless families to live across the country as part of a controversial assistance programme.

More than 12,000 homeless people in New York City were sent to live across the country in 32 states, and Puerto Rico, as part of a “special one-time assistance programme”, according to a new report.

The report, published on Tuesday in the New York Post, says the city sent 5,074 homeless families, a total of 12,482 people, to 373 cities nationwide, costing its taxpayers $89m (£69m).

The city has reportedly shelled out thousands of dollars on everything from travel to home furnishing for the relocated homeless families, though it has not disclosed the specific cost breakdown for such expenditures.

The New York City Department of Homeless Services has defended the programme while noting the apparent savings it yields by sending homeless families to live elsewhere, according to the paper.

Whereas the average annual cost of rent for a relocated family amounts to a reported $17,563 (£13,618), the city pays about $41,000 to house each family living in its shelters.

Still, there are some elements to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s programme that has sparked controversy among critics.

While the majority of families who receive the city’s relocation assistance move out-of-state, the New York Post reported that 35 per cent of recipients “move within city limits” where they spend more on rent than the reported costs for the average relocated family.

What’s more, hundreds have ended up back in shelters across New York.

Some recipients told the newspaper conditions in their relocated apartments were “completely unlivable”.

“We could not stay there any longer,” Sade Collington, whose family moved to an apartment in New Jersey that reportedly had no heat, water or electricity, told the New York Post.

“We went to a shelter for another six months,” she added.

The New York City Department of Investigation reportedly said it discovered “several vulnerabilities” in the relocation assistance programme which included “an inability to hold participating landlords and real estate brokers accountable”.

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The New York State Senate has also launched an investigation into the programme.

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