New York City’s offer of a free year’s rent to homeless people who move out of town is such a sweet deal that at least one man left his job to take advantage of it, an official revealed Friday.
“We actually have one case of someone quitting their job in New York City before being moved up to [Broome County],” said Howard Schultz, the county Department of Social Services’ chief attorney.
It’s hardly the only case under the city’s so-called Special One Time Assistance program, which has upstate officials’ mouths gaping at the de Blasio administration’s recklessness.
In another recent case, a married couple was sanctioned in the Big Apple for receiving benefits through the welfare-to-work program without working — right before the city paid $14,400 to house them and their four kids in Broome County for a year anyway, Schultz said.
And in another stunning instance, a mom and her two kids were shuttled to the upstate county which encompasses Binghamton and its surrounding towns — despite an open welfare case, according to Schultz.
“Our child welfare was not aware of the case,” the attorney fumed.
“If you’re sending indigent people to another community, hundreds of miles from where they live, you want to coordinate with the receiving jurisdiction. Of course, they’re not doing that because they’re doing it illegally.”
Schultz said the law bars him from revealing the names of the homeless who migrated upstate.
The revelations come a day after Broome County officials blew the lid off the five relocated families living in their district, and threatened to sue New York City if it doesn’t end the program.
Mayor De Blasio even came under fire from homeless advocates at home, with Queens Assemblyman Dan Hevesi blasting the scheme Friday.
“This is not good public policy,” said the Democratic pol, who chairs the Assembly’s Social Services Committee and is a leading advocate for more homeless services.
“I’m against exporting the homelessness problem to other parts of the state,” he said.
Hevesi said he’s skeptical that the families will be self-sufficient after a year and therefore the costs of the homeless problem will just be shifted to struggling upstate counties.
Broome County has exactly the same fears, Schultz said.
“After the 12 months, these individuals who were long-term assistance recipients in New York City, they will end up applying for rental assistance through Broome County, given their history,” he said.
“Now they show up to Broome County public assistance with no ability to pay rent but want their medical assistance, their utilities paid, and they may also want additional cash from Broome County Social Services. They may require day care if they do get jobs but then again, none of them are employed.”
Upstate pols claim the program is illegal because it violates a state law that prohibits a person being sent “into a public-welfare district with the purpose of making him a charge on such public-welfare district.”
“This is illegal and it ends today,” Broome County Executive Jason Garnar seethed at a press conference Thursday.
The city Department of Homeless Services maintains that the program is not illegal because it’s voluntary.