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Case Name McCain v. Koch PB-NY-0002
Docket / Court 0041023/1983 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
This action, filed in 1983, challenged the City's and State's failure to provide safe, suitable and adequate emergency housing, assistance and services to homeless families with children, as mandated by Article XVII of the State Constitution, the Equal Protection clause, the State Social Services ... read more >
This action, filed in 1983, challenged the City's and State's failure to provide safe, suitable and adequate emergency housing, assistance and services to homeless families with children, as mandated by Article XVII of the State Constitution, the Equal Protection clause, the State Social Services Law, and State regulations.

A landmark decision in this case holds that the Constitution and laws of the State of New York require New York City and State to provide emergency housing to all homeless families with children. McCain v. Koch, 117 A.D.2d 198 (1st Dept. 1986). Subsequent decisions have upheld the power of the courts to set minimum standards of decency and habitability for emergency shelters, McCain v. Koch, 70 N.Y.2d 109 (1987), and to compel officials to comply with those court-ordered standards. McCain v. Koch, 136 A.D.2d 473 (1st Dep't 1988); McCain v. Dinkins, 84 N.Y.2d 216 (1996). Together these cases resulted in the establishment, unusual in the United States, of a right to shelter in New York City

On August 16, 2005, the trial court found that the City's eligibility process for emergency shelter for families with children continued to result in serious errors and that "families who had been victims of violence or abuse or who clearly had no safe alternative shelter available were found ineligible" for emergency shelter. The court also found that State Administrative Memorandum 05 ADM-07, which would permit the City defendants to deny emergency shelter to some re-applicants, does not on its face conflict with Local Law ยง 21-313 or prior orders in the litigation.

On January 8, 2007, the plaintiffs moved for an order enjoining the City defendants from erroneously denying shelter to children and their families who are eligible for it, and erroneously determining that children and their families who reapply for shelter are ineligible for "immediate needs" shelter pursuant to the City's shelter re-application procedure. The plaintiffs claimed that at least one in three families to whom the City denied "immediate needs" shelter were eventually found to be eligible for ongoing shelter.

On September 7, 2005, the court permitted implementation of the ADM but directed the City to "make sure alternate housing is available" to applicant families with children before denying emergency shelter to them and to provide implementation progress reports to the court and the plaintiffs.

On September 19, 2008, after 25 years of litigation, spanning four mayoral administrations, the parties reached a settlement.

The main lawsuit being settled was McCain v. Koch, filed after similar lawsuits had been filed over the rights of homeless men and women. Those lawsuits had resulted in the establishment, unusual in the United States, of a right to shelter in New York City.

Under the settlement, the parties agreed a new case would be filed, captioned Boston v. City of New York, and, following a class action settlement hearing, all cases against the city and state, as well as the new one, would be dismissed. The city would regain full control and oversight of its family services system, "no longer having to enforce over 40 highly-detailed court orders or spend precious staff time and agency resources complying with or litigating these cases," City Hall said in a statement.

The settlement ended in 2012, and the case is now closed.

Denise Heberle - 04/03/2012

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) New York City
Plaintiff Description Homeless woman who was denied shelter by the City of New York, New York.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - 2010
Filed 1983
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
0041023/1983 (State Supreme Court)
PB-NY-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/12/2008
Source: Westlaw
General Documents
Administrative Directive (to Commissioner of Social Services)
PB-NY-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/29/1983
Memorandum (to Center Directors from Deputy Administrator for Inome Maintenance Programs)
PB-NY-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/1983
Memorandum (to Center Directors from Deputy Administrator for Income Maintenance Programs)
PB-NY-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/1983
Memorandum (to Commissioner from General Counsel NYC)
PB-NY-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/05/1984
Opinion of the Court (granting preliminary injunction, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and denying class certification) (127 Misc.2d 23)
PB-NY-0002-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/22/1984
Source: Westlaw
Opinion of the Court (reversing Supreme Court 6/27/1984 order denying motion to vacate TRO, and reversing certification of class) (117 A.D.2d 198)
PB-NY-0002-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/13/1986
Source: Westlaw
Appellants' Brief
PB-NY-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/14/1986
Source: Papers of Beth Harris
Opinion of the Court (reversing lower court's modified order vacating injunction) (70 N.Y.S.2d 109)
PB-NY-0002-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/04/1987
Source: Westlaw
Opinion of the Court (Supreme Court, reinstating injunction) (136 A.D.2d 473)
PB-NY-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/12/1988
Source: Westlaw
Press Release
PB-NY-0002-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/1992
Order (Draft)
PB-NY-0002-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/15/1992
Opinion of the Court (vacating sanctions against defendants) (192 A.D.2d 217)
PB-NY-0002-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/1993
Source: Westlaw
Opinion of the Court (vacating sanctions) (84 N.Y.S.2d 216)
PB-NY-0002-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/10/1994
Source: Westlaw
Appellants' Reply Brief
PB-NY-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/1996
Order (denying defendant/appellants' appeal re: keeping homeles families in offices overnight) (236 A.D.2d 256)
PB-NY-0002-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/11/1997
Source: Westlaw
Order (affirming order vacating TRO) (252 A.D.2d 461)
PB-NY-0002-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/30/1998
Source: Westlaw
Finality of Judgments and Orders (93 N.Y.S.2d 848)
PB-NY-0002-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/16/1999
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (806 N.Y.S.2d 446)
PB-NY-0002-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/16/2005
Source: Westlaw
Stipulated Final Judgment
PB-NY-0002-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/17/2008
show all people docs
Judges Bellacosa, Joseph W. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
Ellerin, Betty Weinberg (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
Freedman, Helen E. (State Supreme Court, State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0002-0016 | PB-NY-0002-9000
Greenfield, Edward J. (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0002-0007 | PB-NY-0002-0010
Hancock, Stewart F. Jr. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
Kassal, Bentley (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
Lerner, Alfred D. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
Mazzarelli, Angela M (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
Rosenberger, Ernst H. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0002-0008 | PB-NY-0002-0013
Silbermann, Jacqueline W. (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0002-0018 | PB-NY-0002-9000
Sullivan, Joseph P. (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
Williams, JJ (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Banks, Steven (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0002-0001 | PB-NY-0002-0018 | PB-NY-0002-9000
Barnett, Helaine (New York) show/hide docs
Finkel, Kalman (New York) show/hide docs
Fried, Arthur J. (New York) show/hide docs
Kirklin, John E. (New York) show/hide docs
Leary, Shawn P. (New York) show/hide docs
Rosenberg, Scott Alan (New York) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Armstrong, Joseph (New York) show/hide docs
Cardozo, Michael A. (New York) show/hide docs
Crane, Thomas (New York) show/hide docs
Crotty, Paul Austin (New York) show/hide docs
Goode-Trufant, Muriel (New York) show/hide docs
Koerner, Leonard J. (New York) show/hide docs
Krams, Alan G (New York) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Rubin, Asher (California) show/hide docs

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