New York City has spent millions of dollars paying for homeless people to move somewhere else, and the city has not been informing receiving municipalities that it is shipping the homeless to them, according to the New York Post.
The Special One-Time Assistance program, instituted in 2017 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, has cost taxpayers about $90 million dollars. In the program, homeless people receive a year's worth of rent money and traveling expenses to go somewhere else. Here are the requirements:
Homeless individuals and families are eligible for SOTA if they can prove they have been in a New York City shelter for at least 90 days and that their household income is no more than twice what it owes in rent. DHS would not expand on eligibility rules.
More than 5,000 families (12,000 individuals) have been "exported to different locations in the mainland United States, and some have even been sent to Hawaii or Puerto Rico.
So, a homeless family could hypothetically receive $1,500 or so for one-way plane tickets to Hawaii, an average of about $17,000 for a year of rent (which obviously varies based on location) and even $1,000 for furnishing their new home, as one program recipient told the Post they received.
The city would argue that as expensive as that sounds, it's actually cheaper per family than the cost of shelter funding, which they say is about $41,000 per year.
However, the city might be paying to send them off, and then later paying for them when they come back.
Not only are officials in towns where the city's homeless land up in arms, but hundreds of the homeless families are returning to the five boroughs — and some are even suing NYC over being abandoned in barely livable conditions. Multiple outside agencies and organizations have opened investigations into SOTA.
"We were initially seeing a lot of complaints about conditions. Now that the program has been in operation long enough that the SOTA subsidy is expiring, one of our main concerns is it might not be realistic for people to be entirely self-sufficient after that first year," said Jacquelyn Simone, policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless.
Imagine that. If you send a homeless person to another city with a bunch of money and no supervision and potentially no support around them, it might not solve all their problems. It's almost as if homelessness isn't a problem you can throw cash at to make it go away.