McCain v. Koch

70 N.Y.2d 109, 511 N.E.2d 62 (1987)

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McCain v. Koch

New York Court of Appeals
70 N.Y.2d 109, 511 N.E.2d 62 (1987)

Facts

New York City, through its Department of Social Services (DSS) and its Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (DHP), provided emergency housing for homeless families with children. Initially, neither department published regulations establishing standards for the quality of housing provided. Yvonne McCain and other recipients of emergency housing (plaintiffs) sued Mayor Edward Koch (defendant) after being placed in substandard accommodations, including hotel and motel rooms that lacked necessities such as furniture, heat, or electricity; buildings infested with rodents and insects; and unguarded, high-crime buildings. The trial court issued an injunction establishing minimum standards for housing provided to homeless families. The injunction applied only to circumstances in which the city had undertaken to provide housing to homeless families; it did not compel the city to provide additional housing. Several months later, the DSS commissioner established regulations that imposed housing standards more rigorous than those ordered by the trial court. The appellate court vacated the trial court’s injunction, finding that the adequacy of welfare benefits was within the discretion of the legislature and that the judiciary therefore had no power to set emergency housing standards. McCain appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hancock, J.)

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