homelessSept. 27, 2016 - Westchester County won a victory in State Supreme Court on Tuesday that stops efforts by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano from literally putting homeless residents on the street overnight.

“The county was forced to go to court to ensure that safe overnight accommodations are available for Yonkers’ homeless residents and today’s ruling allows us to do that,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “The judge clearly recognized that the public’s need to challenge the strong arm tactics employed by the Mayor, which included trying to shut down a shelter by putting up a condemnation notice on Friday and then later conducting late night raids, while residents were asleep, to search for after-the fact violations.”

By extending the temporary restraining order sought by the county, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Anne E. Minihan is allowing the homeless shelter at 101 North Broadway to remain open.

The operator of the shelter is The Sharing Community, a Yonkers-based non profit organization.

“As a lifelong advocate for the homeless and co-founder of The Sharing Community, I'm pleased that Westchester County has succeeded in blocking abrupt closure of an essential homeless shelter,” said Karl Bertrand. “With winter coming, it would be reckless and inhumane to close a shelter until an alternative facility was available. I hope the county, city and non-profits work together to ensure that all Yonkers' homeless are indoors, safe and well cared for.”

Under the judge’s order, 101 North Broadway will continue to operate as a shelter with a capacity of 30 people and any inspections of the property must be made during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The temporary restraining order remains in effect until further notice.

The Sharing Community also runs another shelter in Yonkers at 1 Hudson St. The city had been moving to close the Hudson Street shelter as well, but said in court on Tuesday that the continued use of that shelter was not an issue.

The county agreed to review the property for potential code violations, and should they exist, fix them by Friday. Toward that end, the county has taken over the lease of the property, which will allow it to act immediately to make repairs if necessary.

Since June, Mayor Spano has sought to have the county transport and shelter Yonkers’ homeless residents to other communities. But in court lawyers for the county strongly refuted any claim by the city that Yonkers was shouldering an unfair burden when it comes to housing the homeless.

Though Yonkers makes up only about 20 percent of the county’s population, the city accounts for a much higher share of the county’s budget for social services. For example, Yonkers residents account for 48 percent of the county’s Medicaid cases, 44 percent of food stamp cases, 36 percent of family homeless cases and 24 percent of single homeless cases.

In the case of what is known as the “drop in” homeless population, individuals who for whatever reason refuse to register with the Department of Social Services, Yonkers residents make up roughly half of the 160 such people the county typically shelters overnight.

The county’s frustration with Yonkers extends to its failure to respond to repeated attempts to resolve any issues. Specifically, the county received no response to a July 26 letter by First Deputy DSS Commissioner Philippe Gille, which provided a comprehensive response to issues raised by Yonkers. As late as last Thursday, when Deputy Mayor Susan Gerry was with Astorino at an event, she made no mention of plans to close the shelters.

“This was a shameless stunt by the mayor, which has put the homeless and the community at risk,” said Astorino. “If left unchallenged, the result would have been the most vulnerable homeless residents of Yonkers sleeping in the streets, posing a threat to themselves and the community. That’s unconscionable and unacceptable, and the county’s not going to let it happen.”