Appellate Division Upholds Homeless Shelter Siting

Court agreed DHS met their burden under the Fair Share Criteria.  In 2012 the Department of Homeless Services opened Freedom House, a 200-family homeless shelter at 316-330 West 95th Street in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on an emergency contract.  When the emergency contract expired, then-Comptroller John C. Liu declined to register the permanent contract.  A community group, Neighborhood In The Nineties, filed an Article 78 petition to enjoin the Comptroller from registering the contract.  Neighborhood argued their area, located in Manhattan Community Board 7, was over-saturated with support housing and to add more would violate the Fair Share Criteria.

On March 12, 2014 Justice Margaret A. Chan of Supreme Court, New York County, dismissed the complaint.  Justice Chan found DHS had met their burden under the Fair Share criteria, studying the area within four hundred feet and a half-mile from Freedom House for support housing, schools, and related facilities, and the Comptroller had a duty to register the contracts.  Neighborhood appealed, arguing DHS did not perform a meaningful analysis of the Fair Share criteria as mandated by the City Charter.

On November 5, 2015 the Appellate Division, First Department, voted to uphold the lower court’s decision.  Justice John W. Sweeney, writing for the court, agreed DHS had substantially tracked Freedom House’s impact under Fair Share in a detailed report concluding the shelter does not demonstrate an undue concentration of services or provide a significant negative cumulative impact on the neighborhood character.

Matter of Bloomberg v Liu, 2015 NY Slip Op 08052 (1st Dep’t Nov. 5, 2015) (Attorneys: Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, P.C., Stewart Wurtzel of counsel, for appellant; Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, Ronald E. Sternberg of counsel, for respondents).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is a CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2014)

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