Comptroller Scott Stringer is calling for a uniform standard for referring drug addicts, the mentally ill, and recently incarcerated people to so-called three-quarter houses, the unregulated, often overcrowded apartments paid for by taxpayers on a per-tenant basis. The New York Times reports that Stringer wrote to de Blasio insisting there is no excuse for sending people to slum housing, and in letters to other agencies Stringer asked for copies of their referral regulations and lists of every address they've referred people to. The move comes two and a half weeks after a Times investigation that showed one particularly scummy three-quarter house operator was forcing recovered addicts to relapse so that he could continue collecting Medicaid kickbacks from rehab facilities.
"This should never happen in a city that has the tools — inspections, databases of violations, etc. — to determine whether landlords are upholding their end of the bargain when they accept tax dollars in exchange for providing shelter to needy families and individuals," Stringer wrote.
Meanwhile, building and health inspectors are visiting three-quarter houses identified to have more than 10 residents, issuing fines, making repairs, and distributing know-your-rights material. Advocates for three-quarter house tenants worry that the city's crackdown will end up pushing people onto the streets or into the city's foul shelters. Steven Banks, commissioner of the Human Resources Administration, which doles out the state's $215 monthly rent allowance, has said that the city will direct tenants to existing programs to ensure that doesn't happen.