New NYC Homeless Policy Rejected (For Now)

Good news for All The Single [Homeless] Ladies: the Manhattan state Supreme Court ruled today that, for the time being, unmarried homeless people do not have to prove they have no other housing options before entering a shelter.

The ruling was in response to a policy change Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration enacted in November. The new rules would require singles to show they're truly homeless, with documents if possible.

The City Council voted in December to sue the administration over the new policy, arguing that, because neither the council nor the public was consulted about the change, it was "in violation of the public vetting process" required by law.

According to the new policy, individuals seeking admission to New York City homeless shelters would be required to provide proof that they had exhausted all possible methods of obtaining other housing. A statement provided by a shelter-seeker that he or she could no longer reside in a particular apartment would not be considered adequate evidence of homelessness. Single adults with "on-hand assets in excess of $2,000" (including, but not limited to, $25,000 sunglasses) would also be deemed ineligible.

Exceptions would be made in the cases of those found to be mentally or physically impaired.

It's important to note that today's ruling did not address the legality of the policy itself; only the administrative methods used to issue it.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn labeled the proposed policy changes "cruel and punitive" and argued that they would put thousands on the street. She called the judge's decision "a tremendous victory."

Mayor Bloomberg defended the policy today, arguing that it would prevent the abuse of public services.

"…We're going to do everything we can [to implement the law] or let the judges explain to the public why they think that you should just have a right to walk in and say, 'Whether or not I need services, give it to me.' "Whether or not I need services, give it to me."

A similar documentation policy has applied to families claiming homelessness for years.

[Image via Getty]