Legislator Foley Accuses County Democrats of deliberately delaying vote on bill to prevent NYC from housing homeless in Rockland, Chairman Hood dismisses accusation
The County Legislature has unanimously passed a new bill intended to prevent other municipalities from relocating residents to Rockland County. Supporting a recent decision issued by the New York State Supreme Court, which last week issued an injunction prohibiting New York City from housing asylum seekers temporarily at the Armoni Inn in Orangetown or any other Rockland location, the new bill, which was signed into law by Executive Day Wednesday morning, states that no municipality or property owner in Rockland County may participate in or establish a housing program without a license issued by the County. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor carrying up to $1,000 penalty per day and/or up to one year of incarceration. The new legislation is a clear response to NYC Mayor Eric Adams repeated attempts to send city residents to Rockland. As the city continues its struggle to house an influx of undocumented immigrants , Mayor Adams has attempted to establish shelters in NYC’s neighboring municipalities, including Rockland, often without the approval of their local governments, angering law makers at the county level who argue that the mayor is disregarding their jurisdiction. This month, Adams’ also announced that his administration would allow the city’s homeless residents to use housing vouchers issued by NYC to pay rent in communities outside the city.
Chairman Jay Hood Jr. and other members of the legislature have repeatedly stated that the new law is a culmination of their work to preserve their own authority and protect a community already struggling to provide safe housing for all of it’s residents, and not a blanket move to prevent immigration to the county.
“The Rockland County Legislature has steadfastly defended Rockland County from becoming a NYC housing & social services annex for people who seek nothing more than to build better lives, but who require incredible resources – housing, food, medical attention, emotional support, education for their children and themselves, and a plethora of additional social services,” wrote Hood in a statement shared with Rockland Times.
His concerns are well founded. Between September 2022 and March 2023, Rockland County experienced a 35% increase in the number of children under foster care and a 100% increase in the number of households seeking assistance from local food pantries, including Catholic Charities, one of the county’s contracted nonprofit agencies . Coupled with Rockland’s historical struggles to enforce zoning codes, and an acute lack of affordable housing, these statics paint the picture of a municipality ill suited to house hundreds of additional new residents.
“Rockland County government and its residents continue to step up in the face of need,” Chairman Hood wrote. “What we don’t need is another municipality – in the case, New York City, transporting hundreds if not more people to a county that is simply not set up to address such overwhelming demand. Nor should local taxpayers have to bear the brunt of what is clearly a national crisis.”
Though clearly a popular decision among the legislature, passing by a margin of 13-0, the process of writing the proposal caused a contentious argument between Legislature Chairman Jay Hood Jr., and Republican Legislator James Foley.
In a statement posted to Facebook this week, Legislator Foley accused County Democrats of engaging in “quid pro quo” deliberately delaying a vote on legislation intended to benefit the entire county in exchange for passing a local law that would fund sidewalk improvements in Ramapo.
When Chairman Hood issued a response to Legislator Foley’s accusations on the Legislature’s official website and social media pages, Foley requested to use the same outlets to share a rebuttal: in a statement shared on his own private page, Legislator Foley asserts that his request has been denied.
Chairman Hood did not mince words in his own statement defending his colleagues representing Ramapo.
“Shockingly, despite the facts, Legislator Foley has erroneously charged that the votes of some legislators will only go to support the proposed law – which the legislators themselves helped write – if sidewalks are provided in Ramapo,” wrote Hood. ““The sidewalk issue is separate and involves establishing a sidewalk safety program for all county roads in Rockland – not just Ramapo.” Chairman Hood also dismissed legislator Foley’s “demand” that a special meeting be held to vote on the bill, stating that he had instructed the Legislative Clerk to schedule a vote for 6:50 p.m. on Oct. 24 a day before Legislator Foley made his request.