[JURIST] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official profile; official website] announced Wednesday that his administration had reached a settlement [press release] in a long-standing lawsuit over homeless families' right to use shelters throughout the city. The main lawsuit, McCain v. Koch [NY Times report], was initially filed in 1983 by the Legal Aid Society [official website]. As that lawsuit progressed through the court system other complaints were filed, prompting the city to declare a right to shelter [Coalition for the Homeless report, PDF] which was enforced through the court system. The new agreement announced Wednesday is supported by many rights groups, including the Coalition for the Homeless [official website], and will allow the City to resume complete control in setting its policy for dealing with an estimated 9,000 homeless families, which include 14,000 children. Bloomberg also spoke highly of the agreement:
Today is a historic day for homeless children and their families in this City. We have been able to reach a break-through settlement of 25 years of litigation that will benefit all the people of this City by ensuring that homeless families with children will be treated appropriately and in accordance with legal requirements to which we have all now agreed," said The Legal Aid Society Attorney-in-Chief Steven Banks who worked on the litigation with the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.AP has more. The New York Times has local coverage.
When the suit was filed in May 1983, the plaintiff in McCain v. Koch argued that the shelters in the City were deficient and that the City had not instituted proper standards governing homeless shelters. The court system oversaw the City's handling of the homeless situation until 2003 when the lawsuit was placed on hiatus. During that time the City's Department of Homeless Services (DHS) [official website] made numerous changes to the family shelter system. In 2005 the litigation resumed, against the recommendation [text, PDF] of a court appointed special masters panel, and in 2006 the City moved for dismissal on the grounds that the issues in the complaint had been resolved. During those proceedings, talks between both sides resulted in the settlement.