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Contract dispute nearly ousts homeless families

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The shelter’s management, the nonprofit group Homes for the Homeless, sent out letters to...

Contract disputes nearly forced the 222 homeless families living at the Saratoga Interfaith Family Inn shelter to scramble to find a new place to sleep last week.

The shelter’s management, the nonprofit group Homes for the Homeless, sent out letters to its residents July 8 saying it might have to close the shelter if the group could not reach an agreement with the city’s Department of Homeless Services to renew its contract, which expired June 30, a DHS spokesman said.

The letter threw the 222 families into a panic at the shelter on Rockaway Boulevard in Jamaica. If the shelter had closed, the families would have had to return to the Emergency Assistance Unit in the Bronx, the intake center for the DHS.

Families stood outside the shelter last week to protest the closure and were joined by Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton).

“These families are already homeless,” he said. “Where will these mothers and their children go? This action is beyond brutal.”

Homes for the Homeless has been working with the city since 1986, but was upset over new accountability provisions required under the new two-year contract, the spokesman said. The group reached an agreement with the city July 9. The nonprofit also runs an 88-bed shelter in the Bronx.

Officials at Homes for the Homeless could not be reached for comment.

— Courtney Dentch

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