Weil and The Legal Aid Society Win Major Victory for Hundreds of Sandy Evacuees

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

  • The Legal Aid Society

New York County Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan ruled on May 15, 2013 that the City may not end the hotel program for hundreds of Sandy evacuees and pointed out that a new federal program to provide $9 million in rental assistance for Sandy victims could be used to help the families. The Legal Aid Society and the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP represented the plaintiffs. The Legal Aid Society has urged the City to find permanent housing for the Sandy victims.

Joshua Goldfein, a Staff Attorney in the Society's Homeless Rights Project, told the Wall Street Journal that "We hope the city will now implement the rental voucher program quickly. We want our clients moved out of the hotels. That's all we want." Judith Goldiner, Attorney-in-Charge of the Society's Civil Law Reform Unit, told the New York Times that the City must now speed up the distribution of rental vouchers to assist all the evacuees in securing a home. “In a couple of months everyone could be out of the hotels,” she said.

The Legal Aid Society and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP filed this lawsuit, Alycia Sapp et al v. City of New York, on April 29 on behalf of low-income New Yorkers charging that the City has not done enough to help Sandy refugees find housing and seeking to prevent the City from stopping hotel assistance for Sandy victims. Justice Margaret Chan granted a Temporary Restraining Order, and extended the order until May 15, thereby ensuring that Hurricane Sandy evacuees living in City-paid hotel rooms will have a place to stay for at least two more weeks. Despite the fact that the City had announced at a City Council hearing on April 26 that it would end the hotel program for 196 households on April 30, the City told Justice Chan that it had paid the hotels through May 15.

WNYC, Reuters, NY1, the New York Law Journal, and the Epoch Times also reported yesterday's court hearing.

The Legal Aid team includes Judith Goldiner; Joshua Goldfein and Cristina Schrum-Herrara of the Society's Homeless Rights Project and Young Lee and Tashi Lhewa of the Society's Queens Sandy Unit. The Weil pro bono team is comprised of Weil partner Konrad Cailteux, associates Isabella Lacayo, Jesse Morris and Emily Pincow, law clerk Chris Lewarne, and paralegals Elizabeth McConville and Kacey Carter.

For more information, visit the Legal Aid Society's website.