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@NYCHRA persists in Breach of Contract

January 7, 2016

This is the actual letter that was sent to me promising to pay for my storage “as long as [I] live in a Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter.”  To date, I am still in bed #306 of the Bowery Mission Transitional Center, which is part of the DHS system, and therefore, HRA should still be paying rent on my storage, but it still has not been paid for January 2016.

According to MFY Legal Services, HRA should be continuing to pay for my storage.  Tamara Yasmin at HRA insists that I need to have an active public assistance case, for which my wages make me no longer eligible, and tells me that her supervisor, Luís Lopez, agrees, and insists that I take off work and apply again to get the payment.  MFY advised me not to pay because their legal team looked at the policy bulletin posted previously and determined that it means exactly what it says, that HRA is to pay for storage of all shelter residents, and that HRA is willfully violating its own policies in my case.  I am to learn Thursday or Friday if MFY will be taking my case.  If they do not, I will have to pay for the late fees myself.

I do not mind paying for my storage (and the housing specialist at the shelter said that my storage fee could be worked around for finding me housing, although it’s unrealistic in New York City’s housing market), I mind being given false information by HRA, and I mind if MFY is mistaken because their job is to provide me with correct legal advice, and I mind if I have to pay a late fee because I followed their legal advice.  Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Advocacy Program says that there is “a discrepancy in the policy bulletins” at HRA, and that the correct policy is only to pay storage for people on public assistance or SSI.  I am tempted to pay my bill now while I am on the computer, but it seems premature while I am still waiting on MFY.

I’m not a lawyer, but HRA’s actions compared to this document sure looks like breach of contract to me, so I am accusing them without hesitation.  I’m bringing in over $300 a week, so I can accept paying $275 a month to retain all my worldly possessions.  I saw HRA Commissioner Steven Banks at a forum on housing last night, and it seemed like he looked away every time I looked at him.  When I met with him with a group from Picture the Homeless, which at the forum  asked the most hardball questions and got the weakest answers, I handed him a hard copy of the blog entry about my unlawful arrest at HRA.  It would also not surprise me if his staffers have shown him my previous tweets accusing HRA of breach of contract.  He did not stay long enough to take questions, saying he had a meeting with BRC, and ducking out after he introduced himself and what he had been doing with HRA and now taking over DHS after Gilbert Taylor resigned from his position as commissioner of that department.


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  1. MFY is taking my case. I will be working with a new legal aide, but he was out sick. I went ahead and paid my storage bill and the $10 late fee, and hope I’m not busted for violating the shelter savings plan. My previous legal aide said that they may still be able to get them to pay for my storage, but under the circumstances, so long as I have income, I don’t want to risk bigger late fees, lien fees, and auction notices only to still get a no. I still want them to work on the issue in terms of going forward, but now I don’t have to worry about it for another month, and I still have income, so until I’m laid off or let go, I am not concerned about losing my storage, unless the shelter tries to violate my 5th amendment right to property by making me rent a room too small to hold the contents of my storage and too expensive for me to pay for both. when I’m still fielding calls from recruiters with jobs that pay $45 an hour, as I did on Friday, I’m not about to give up on my property or sell it off.

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