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Forgotten Families: Westchester Cities Join Fight To End NYC's SOTA Program, Demanding Records On Relocated Homeless

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There is new fallout over a controversial New York City program that secretly relocates homeless families out of the five boroughs.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports a Westchester county city is now considering legal action days after New Jersey's largest city was able to cut a deal with the de Blasio administration.

"What we saw in New Jersey scares the hell out of us," Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said.

Mayor Spano was reacting to family after family CBS2 has profiled this year – relocated from New York City homeless shelters to homes in Newark and East Orange with no heat or hot water and infestations.

MORE: Forgotten Families: After NYC-Newark Deal, Other Cities Seek To End SOTA & Sen. Booker Weighs In

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano (Credit: CBS2)

"If it wasn't for what came out in the news then they wouldn't have even told us they potentially put 100 or so families here," Spano added.

Spano says, like Newark, he's been trying to find out from New York City where the families were put as part of the "Special One Time Assistance" program or SOTA.

The city paid landlords one year's rent upfront; more than half are relocated outside of the five boroughs.

"We were given assurances they would at least communicate with Building Department… a lot of broken promises."

Earlier this week, Newark took NYC to federal court and was able to temporarily stop the program there as well as obtain addresses of current recipients.

Spano is now demanding the city end the program in Yonkers too. He also filed formal paperwork with the city requesting leasing records.

If he doesn't get it soon, the mayor of Yonkers says he's ready to file his own lawsuit.

"What they're doing is not working and it's clear," André Wallace, the mayor of Mount Vernon said.

Wallace says his administration is discovering rentals "unfit for human occupancy."

mount vernon
(Credit: CBS2)

Records show there are also around 100 SOTA recipients there. On Wednesday, he met with the incoming mayor and other city leaders to tackle the problem and prepare for a meeting he's lined up with New York City officials next week.

"The sad part about it to me is families out in this condition and jerked aprons and we don't have any power or say to do anything," Wallace added.

CBS2 reached out to the de Blasio administration multiple times to see if they'll share addresses with other cities. No one got back to us.


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