A federal judge ruled that homeless New Yorkers can continue to stay in hotels for two more weeks, NY 1 reported. The court’s transfer plan expanded the city’s transfer plan to be more accommodating for people with disabilities.
With the pandemic easing and tourists visiting, New York City is seeking to return homeless people to congregate shelters after they were staying in otherwise-empty hotels since the height of the pandemic.
Judge Gregory Howard Woods said the city must meet certain requirements when transferring homeless people to shelters, especially in regards to homeless people with physical disabilities. He ruled that the city cannot move individuals with disabilities without a written notice provided no later than seven days before the move, and meetings with case workers no later than five days before the move to a shelter.
Woods also ruled that case workers need a script that will explain the situation to their clients, and to provide information on how they can apply for a waiver that will allow them to stay longer in the hotel.
The ruling comes after the Legal Aid Society filed a motion last Thursday requesting a temporary restraining order on all transfers, saying that the city was rushing “recklessly” and violating the civil rights of disabled people. After the motion, the city voluntarily paused all transfers from hotels to shelters.
“We thank the Court for taking a thoughtful look at the question of how and on what timeline we return to shelter, not whether we do – and we are pleased that the judge did not stop our overall return to shelter plan from proceeding,” Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the Department for Homeless services, said in a statement. “We will make the minor adjustments to our process as directed, we plan to move forward next week, and we remain committed to meeting our clients’ unique needs and granting accommodations as requested, as we have in hundreds of cases already.”