Mayor Bill de Blasio conceded on Thursday that “there were mistakes” in his initiative to ship about 5,000 homeless families out of town — but he is “deeply surprised” that Newark is suing over it.
“That was really a derogatory lawsuit,” de Blasio said. “It was a statement against working poor people. You read what they’re suggesting. It’s entirely disrespectful to these people who are just trying to make ends meet and lead their lives.”
New Jersey’s largest city filed the federal lawsuit Monday to block New York from dumping more homeless families in their back yard under de Blasio’s $89 million Special One-Time Assistance program.
The lawsuit accuses New York of forcing SOTA families into “uninhabitable conditions” in Newark.
De Blasio said the suit came “with no warning whatsoever,” even though he had spoken to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka “several times over the last year.”
“My point to Mayor Baraka is, there but for the grace of God go you or I,” de Blasio said Thursday. “This is about helping working people, working poor people who ended up homeless.”
“How could any city turn its back on people in need?” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
He also blamed Newark for the substandard housing that SOTA families were placed in.
“If the building is in your jurisdiction, you have a responsibility for the health and safety of the building,” de Blasio said. “Again, ‘Physician, heal thyself.’”