NEW YORK — Homeless disabled New Yorkers are suing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration in federal court.
The suit claims New York City failed to consider the disabilities of homeless New Yorkers as they were moved out of hotels and back into shelters. During the height of the pandemic, the city relocated more than 8,000 New Yorkers from congregate shelters and into hotel rooms to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
The Department of Homeless Services is in the process of reversing the policy.
“The city has just a mad rush, throwing people onto buses and taking them to back to congregate sites and put people in great danger by placing them at sites that cannot accommodate their disabilities,” explained Legal Aid Society Staff Attorney Josh Goldfein.
Some of the examples are harrowing.
“We’ve seen people with mobility impairments who were sent to sites that had stairs so they couldn’t even get in the building,“ added Goldfein.
Isaac McGinn, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Social Services responded to the lawsuit.
“As we phase out the temporary use of COVID-period commercial hotels, we and our not-for-profit provider partners are also working closely with clients to assess each individual’s unique needs and grant their Reasonable Accommodation (RA) requests, through a process agreed to in court, with hundreds of accommodations already granted as we work to meet those needs,” McGinn said.