NCLEJ and Empire Justice Center Challenge Unlawful Delays in Processing Emergency Assistance Applications in Long Island, New York

Doe v. Blass, a class action filed in September 2009, challenges delays in providing emergency assistance for costs such as rent arrears, security deposits, broker fees, and avoiding utility shutoff. People are losing their housing as the result of such delays, and are often forced into homelessness. While the law requires that the agency provide a same-day interview and prompt and complete action to avert the emergency, benefits are being made available after one or more months, often far too late to preserve or obtain housing.

The named plaintiff was receiving unemployment benefits to support herself and her two children. Despite the fact that she had obtained an order of protection against the children’s father, the father was arrested after banging on her apartment door. After she located a safe place to live and applied for emergency assistance to make the move, the agency dragged its feet. NCLEJ and the Empire Justice Center, co-counsel in this action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Suffolk County, allege that these delays are widespread. Discovery and a motion for class certification are pending.

For further information contact Tedde Tasheff (tasheff(at) or Laura Redman (redman(at) Co-counsel are Linda Hassberg (LHassberg(at) and Saima Akhtar (SAhtar(at) of the Empire Justice Center in Central Islip, New York, and Albany, New York respectively.