Friday, January 3, 2014

Homeless Youths File Federal Lawsuit Against New York City

"Homeless youths sue city for not providing enough shelter" : NYPost

The Legal Aid Society has filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, against the City of New York on behalf of several homeless youths. The plaintiffs fault New York City for failing to provide sufficient shelter.

"The Brooklyn federal court lawsuit claims that while the city is legally obligated to provide beds for all homeless people ages 16 to 20, it turns away hundreds of applicants every night," The New York Post reported earlier this week, adding, "With 3,800 kids currently homeless in the city and only 253 shelter beds available, the waiting lists are growing, the suit states."

A coalition of LGBT organizations, including the Ali Forney Center headed by Carl Siciliano, created the Campaign for Youth Shelter, which would press the city to provide additional funding in a lockstep rate of "$3 million in annual funding to create 100 new shelter beds every year," according to a report in The Advocate.

Perhaps the Legal Aid Society's lawsuit was inspired by the activism surrounding the Campaign for Youth Shelter, as one insider said, but the lawsuit has a larger ambition : seeking the resources to provide shelter for every homeless youth today. If successful, the Legal Aid Society's lawsuit would appear to be the answer to this social issue. If so, now would be the time for the Campaign for Youth Shelter to update its plans for how a larger shelter system could be created once all the resources become available.

In the past, Mayor Bloomberg would seek budgetary cuts to homeless LGBT youth programs, but these cuts would get restored during the budget negotiations.

2013-12-30 Legal Aid Society USDC EDNY NYC Complaint Re Homeless Youth by Connaissable

Some noted the irony that the lawsuit would not be defended by the Bloomberg-Quinn administration, which was largely responsible for growing inequities between a new guilded generation of the very wealthy and the famous 99%, a term coined by Occupy Wall Street to describe everybody else. But the flip side to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg always playing the boogyman was the fact that the City Council, headed by former Speaker Christine Quinn, was always comprised of a supermajority of Democrats, yet the City Council never confronted the mayor to demand the resources to fully address any social ill. By the same token, the Public Advocate's office was never visible in the fight for full budgetary resources, either.

This lawsuit seeks to address the deprivation of homeless youths, who have nothing. One activist noted that Mayor Bloomberg's successor, Bill de Blasio, will now have to put his newly-confessed economic sensibilities about "A Tale Of Two Cities" to the test : it will be incumbent upon Mayor de Blasio to fully fund the resources that homeless youth community groups need to provide adequate shelter to homeless youths.

That litigation is being brought now is a sign that the Legal Aid Society means to force the city's hand, and that homeless shelters would no longer be willing to engage in the annual, farcical "budget dance" -- the cut-and-restore budget negotiation process that leaves important community groups unable to adequately plan long-term operating budgets. Based on how the former Public Advocate failed to champion the cause of homeless shelters, the Legal Aid Society seems to not want to take chances now that the former Public Advocate has become mayor.

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