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NYC Moving Homeless Residents to Broome County Through SOTA Program

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Broome County is asking New York City to immediately stop relocating homeless families to the area.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar on Thursday said Broome's Department of Social Services identified five families whose rent is being paid through NYC SOTA program, which allows people who are homeless to live rent free for one year.

"There could be more. I suspect this is happening in other upstate counties as well," said Garnar.

The county said a DSS supervisor noticed a trend that recipients were coming into the office saying they did not need rental assistance because their rent had been paid for one year by Human Services in NYC.

DSS officials said they confirmed the information last Wednesday, March 28.

Broome County Department of Social Services lawyer Howard Schultz said his office contacted the special counsel commissioner from the Human Resource Administration, who acknowledged the five families that had been transferred to Broome. Schultz then alerted the Broome County Commissioner that New York City had been excommunicating homeless residents to the community. According to DSS, the practice of moving homeless residents from one area to another is a violation of a Social Services law and Schultz said it could be a criminal matter.

"It is our responsibility to take care of our residents and as Jason mentioned, it is New York City's responsibility to take care of their residents," said Nancy Williams, Social Services Commissioner of Broome County. 

Williams stated that the county verified that the residents came from a New York City homeless shelter as part of the SOTA program.

Broome County is demanding financial compensation from NYC and that the relocation of homeless residents ceases immediately.

"I'm hopeful that New York City would be responsive to the demands I've made upon them," said Schultz.

Broome County would like to make their housing situation for the homeless temporary and stop the prolonged reintegration process. To help these people get back into the community as quickly and efficiently as possible. The five cases from Broome County and the SOTA program is currently under review, Schultz expects to hear back from the Human Resource Administration by next week.