City Council Approves Homeless Policy Lawsuit

The council voted 47-1 to file the lawsuit

By Andrew Siff and Melissa Russo
|  Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011  |  Updated 9:06 PM EDT
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The New York City Council is suing the Bloomberg administration over a new homeless shelter policy after NBC New York's first report on it. The mayor says it will save the shelters for the truly needy and save the taxpayers money. Council members claim it's cruel. Melissa Russo reports.

NBC New York

The New York City Council is suing the Bloomberg administration over a new homeless shelter policy after NBC New York's first report on it. The mayor says it will save the shelters for the truly needy and save the taxpayers money. Council members claim it's cruel. Melissa Russo reports.

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The City Council has approved a resolution to file a lawsuit to try and stop a new Bloomberg administration policy that would require adults seeking shelter to prove they have no other options.

It's not clear when the lawsuit will be filed.

The homeless policy was set to go into effect on Nov. 14, but after NBC New York first reported the plan, it was delayed until next month.

"This policy will do nothing but promote homelessness," Councilwoman Helen Foster said Tuesday.

Those who support the lawsuit say the city did not follow procedure set forth in the City Charter for making such a policy change.

Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond said his agency was transparent about the new policy and violated no laws.

"This is the right policy for taxpayers," he said. "People who have alternate places to stay are not homeless."

DHS officials had previously said the policy will save $4 million a year, reserving shelter space for people who truly need it.

Council sources told NBC New York this is the first time the City Council has sought to file an independent lawsuit against the Bloomberg administration, but it is not the first legal challenge against the policy.

The Legal Aid Society has already asked a State Supreme Court judge who oversees city shelter policy to review the legality of the new plan.

Both sides are expected to submit written arguments and return to court Dec. 9 in that case.

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