Department Of Investigation Finds ‘Multiple Flaws’ With SOTA Program – CBS New York
The DOI released the findings of its investigation into the controversial program Thursday.
WEB EXTRA: READ THE DOI’S FULL REPORT
SOTA, which stands for Special One Time Assistance, relocated 65% of families from the city’s shelter system to apartments outside the five boroughs. Landlords were paid one year’s rent upfront.
CBS2’s extensive coverage found several families were pressured to leave the shelters and placed in unlivable conditions.
WATCH: Can New York City’s SOTA Program For Homeless Families Be Fixed?
The DOI’s report found the city failed to vet the landlords and properties. It specifically mentions landlord Sean Young, who CBS2’s Lisa Rozner first confronted in February. He eventually pleaded guilty to multiple housing violations in East Orange, New Jersey.
Young rented 19 units to SOTA recipients at an average of $17,000 a year, meaning he pocketed more than $300,000 in taxpayer money, the report says.
The report also says in some cases, Department of Homeless Services employees allegedly falsified documents by certifying the units without seeing them in person. It’s unclear whether those employees will face any disciplinary action.
#BREAKING: @NYC_DOI releases report investigating @NYCDHS controversial homeless export program “SOTA.” Includes new revelations about landlord Sean Young who I repeatedly confronted, and says some #DHS staff falsely filled out apt checklists. I’ll have more tonight @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/Dmtz9ZqFxn
— Lisa Rozner (@LisaRoznerTV) December 5, 2019
The DOI recommends paying landlords in installments throughout the year, rather than a full year upfront. The Human Resources Administration says it’s working on a program to stagger the payments, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports.
Earlier this week, Newark filed a lawsuit against New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and HRA Commissioner Steve Banks over SOTA. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said the city is considering joining the suit, as well.