MANHATTAN — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has officially filed suit against the Bloomberg administration to halt a controversial new homeless policy that would force those seeking shelter to prove they have nowhere else to go.
The petition, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, accuses the administration of violating city rules by failing to inform the Council about the change, which Quinn has slammed as "punitive" and "cruel."
“If going to court is the only way to force the administration to abandon this reckless policy, then we will fight until the 40,000 homeless people who look to shelters to keep them from the streets no longer have to worry that they’ll be turned away," the speaker said in a statement.
Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have staunchly defended the policy change, arguing that a similar process has been used with homeless families for years and will ensure that shelter space is available for those who need it most.
“I don’t understand what the brouhaha is," the mayor said during his radio show last week.
“You've got to find out whether they need it. And that’s all we’re trying to do here," he said.
The Department of Homeless Services has estimated that it can save about $4 million a year if it diverts about 10 percent of shelter applicants to other locations, such as the homes of family and friends.
This is the first time the Council has filed an independent lawsuit against the administration during Quinn's time as speaker.