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Lawyer: Homeless Get Runaround (C. Limits)

Posted on 04 October 2011 by admin (0)

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City Limits

A year after the city settled a major lawsuit over the treatment of homeless families, the Department of Homeless Services is still turning away families for whom it is supposed to offer emergency shelter, say advocates, the city comptroller and the applicants themselves.

The biggest problem with family applications, they say, is that workers at the Prevention, Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) center in the south Bronx, where families with children apply for shelter, consistently overlook evidence indicating eligibility. Families often have to re-apply many times before finally being sheltered.

The Legal Aid Society claims this violates a Dec. 2008 agreement (negotiated in September, finalized in December) to settle the decades-long litigation known as the McCain case. That agreement established the right to emergency shelter for families with children, and specifically outlined steps that the city’s homeless services agency must take to fulfill that right.

“Regrettably, while the litigation has been settled, the errors and the suffering continue,” said Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief at the Legal Aid Society. “It is at this point only a matter of time before we are going to have to return to court to enforce the underlying order.”

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