At least 60 men illegally denied beds at Manhattan intake facility; advocates threaten to sue Department of Homeless Services

NEW YORK — The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless are vowing to sue New York City for breaking the law after at least five dozen people were denied beds a homeless intake facility.

As CBS2’s Alecia Reid reports, everyone has a right to guaranteed shelter in New York City, but the Department of Homeless Services failed to meet its obligation Monday night as at least 60 men were denied beds at a Manhattan intake facility. The Department of Homeless Services held a closed meeting Tuesday to discuss why that happened.

The Legal Aid Society says the DHS told them beds were available, but there was an operational issue.

“The city of New York failing in this instance to find a bed for people who needed a bed,” said Joshua Goldfein, with Legal Aid Society.

Tuesday, the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless alerted DHS they will resort to the courts if the city fails to comply with the law. DHS told the Legal Aid Society beds were available, but an administrative error showed otherwise. This isn’t the first time that’s happened.

“We see all the time single adults who are assigned a bed and taken to the bed, and then it turns out, at the shelter, they’ll say, sorry, there’s no room here tonight, and then they have to scramble to find a different bed for that person,” Goldfein said.

Lenorza Evans, a veteran experiencing homelessness, says he was once denied a bed.

“It’s a shame. People get murdered in the street. You’re afraid,” he said.

Some of the men denied beds were recent migrants sent to New York City on buses.

“They’re coming here with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. They really just want to get to work. They want to move on with their lives,” Goldfein said.

From Tuesday’s meeting, the Legal Aid Society says DHS is planning to add 100 beds at a hotel they are already using, will add an additional 200 by temporarily turning a women’s shelter with extra beds into a men’s shelter and adding hundreds of emergency beds to existing sites.

But Goldfein says a long-term solution is needed.

“The city could create space by moving people who are already in shelter into permanent housing, and then they would have more units that they can use and they wouldn’t be facing this crisis that they’re running out of beds,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the Legal Aid Society threatened to take the city to court. They sued back in 2009 and won, leading DHS to add 1,000 beds to its shelter system.

CBS2 reached out to DHS for comment. As of this hour, we haven’t heard back.

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