Michael Bloomberg Faces NY City Council Lawsuit Over Homeless Shelters

Mayor Michael Bloomberg faces a lawsuit from the New York City Council for his "cruel and punitive" eligibility requirements for residents of city homeless shelters, Reuters reported Tuesday.

"We are filing this lawsuit because the Bloomberg administration has flouted the rules and regulations as it relates to public notification," Council Speaker Christine Quinn told reporters outside City Hall Monday ahead of the vote.

"The public has to be notified. The public has to have opportunity to comment. I would argue that it hasn't happened because it's a bad policy and you don't promote things you're not proud of."

Quinn said Bloomberg's administration failed to follow guidelines in the city charter when it changed the admission policy at men's and women's shelters. The rules now require the homeless to prove they have nowhere else to go. Bloomberg has said the policy is not out of line with other regulations.

The lawsuit aims to force public hearings on the issue. New York is required by the 1981 Callahan consent decree to provide shelter to anyone suffering from "physical, mental or social dysfunction."

"The overwhelming majority of people are coming from living with someone else," Seth Diamond, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, told Reuters, defending Bloomberg's move. "The system has developed so that people use it as a first option. We think it should be for people who have no alternatives," Diamond said.

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