At yesterday’s acrimonious hearing on changes in the city’s procedures for admitting single adults to homeless shelters. Council Speaker Christine Quinn pressed Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond over whether the state had –- as Diamond contended — actually approved the change.
To some in the audience it may have seemed as though Quinn was splitting hairs. Diamond certainly seemed peeved at her approach.
Now, though, it looks as though she was correct. In a letter to Diamond dated yesterday and released this morning by Quinn’s office, Elizabeth Berlin of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, says that any suggestion that her office approved the new eligibility procedure is “inaccurate.”
And Berlin went further:
Moreover, this office has serious concerns that DHS failed to submit this proposal to the New York Supreme Court for review. For over 30 years, such a review process has been DHS’s practice when making a policy change relating to the Callahan Consent Decree. Given DHS’s failure to share this policy with the court, OTDA finds the Nov.14 implementation date – a mere 10 days after the policy change was announced – to be completely unreasonable and is not supported by the state.
The Callahan decree, reached between the city, state and advocates in 1981 provides a right to shelter for adults who qualified for welfare or who are homeless “by reason of physical, mental or social dysfunction.”
To read more on the issue and the debate over it, go here. And more on the exchange between Quinn and Diamond after the jump.
At the hearing yesterday, Diamond told the council that the state had informed his office that the change, which seeks to compel people to find alternatives to shelters including staying with relatives or even leaving the country, is “consistent with state rules.” Quinn countered that that did not mean the state approved it. “Our understanding from the governor’s office is that they have not approved it,” she said.
Diamond responded that the department did not need approval. “We have the flexibility to implement procedure that are consistent with state laws and regulations,” Diamond said, adding he believed his office had “what is needed to allow us to go forward.”
Berlin’s letter explicitly addresses that point. “OTDA has not commented on the substantive merits of the proposed change, but instead determined that the proposal was not inconsistent with state law,” her two-paragraph letter said,
We’ll try to get some reaction and pass it along.
By Gail Robinson on November 10, 2011, 11:54 am
In category: Albany
, City Hall
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