A Manhattan-based appellate panel has upheld a decision that blocked New York City from instituting a new process for determining the eligibility of single homeless adults for temporary admission to shelters. Among other things, applicants would have been required to prove they had no other place to go before entering a shelter. City Council and other opponents immediately went to court, arguing that what they characterized as a "shelter denial plan" violated a 1981 consent degree (NYLJ, Feb. 22, 2012).
The new process was to have gone into effect on Nov. 14, 2011, but Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische (See Profile), ruling in two companion cases, said the city had not followed the "express, rigorous procedure," including publication and public hearings, for enacting new rules. A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed that decision "for the reasons stated" by Gische without further comment yesterday. Joining the ruling in Callahan v. Carey and Council v. Department of Homeless Services, 9222 and 9223, and were Justices John Sweeny (See Profile), David Saxe (See Profile), Leland DeGrasse (See Profile), Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile) and Paul Feinman (See Profile). Oral argument was held on Jan. 22.
Justice Gische is now on the First Department bench.
Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society, which represented the Callahan plaintiffs, said in an interview that "in its simplicity, [the decision] is an extremely forceful statement" the city was wrong. "I would hope that the city would give up this misguided plan which will hurt homeless men and women."
Corporation Counsel Michael Cadozo said that the city was disappointed. "We believe the court erred in its interpretation of the City Administrative Procedure Act (CAPA)," he said in a statement. "The Department of Homeless Services' efforts to properly determine individuals' eligibility are rational, important steps to fulfilling its core mandate." Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond predicted that the procedural ruling would force the city to build more shelters.