UNITED STATES NEWS

Group accused of making up story about homeless vets being evicted to make room for migrants

May 19, 2023, 2:31 PM | Updated: 2:48 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The founder of a nonprofit group has been accused of fabricating a story about homeless military veterans being evicted from a New York hotel to make room for migrants, a tale that stoked days of outrage on cable news networks.

One Republican lawmaker in New York who helped spread the story is now calling for an investigation, saying he and others were duped.

The uproar began after New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, bused a small group of asylum seekers to a suburban hotel as the city’s homeless shelter system struggled to accommodate an influx of migrants from the U.S. border with Mexico.

The group’s transfer prompted a political backlash from Republican county officials, who accused the mayor of trying to offload his problems on unprepared communities.

Then, the founder of a small charity in the area added an explosive claim: To make way for the migrants, a hotel in Newburgh, New York, evicted nearly two dozen homeless veterans.

That story, told by Yerik Israel Toney Foundation chief executive Sharon Toney-Finch, was picked up May 12 by The New York Post and quickly followed by Fox News, Newsmax and other conservative news outlets.

The Post on Friday published a follow-up story reporting on the latest development.

“Our veterans have been placed in another hotel due to what’s going on with the immigrants,’’ Toney-Finch told the Post, saying her group had made arrangements to find alternative lodging. “We didn’t waste any time.”

State Assemblyman Brian Maher, a Republican, introduced legislation that would prohibit the displacement of homeless veterans. In an appearance on Fox News, he called the purported evictions an “absolute embarrassment on all fronts.”

Cracks in the story emerged after an investigation by a local newspaper, the Mid Hudson News.

The managers of the hotel told the paper the story wasn’t true. A receipt purporting to show that the Crossroads Hotel had been paid $37,800 to house the veterans appeared to have been sloppily doctored.

In a follow-up report Friday, the Mid-Hudson News reported that several men staying at a homeless shelter in Poughkeepsie, New York, had come forward to say they were recruited to pretend they were among the veterans kicked out of the hotel. The paper quoted some of the men as saying they were offered $200, food and alcohol to take part in the ruse.

They said they met with Toney-Finch, then participated in a meeting at a veterans center in Orange County with local chamber of commerce officials.

Toney-Finch denied giving any money to the men.

In brief interview with The Associated Press, she declined to say directly that her story was not true, but she suggested that a misunderstanding might have led to confusion.

“We should have verified better,” she said. She abruptly ended the phone call when pressed for details.

Maher said in a written statement that he had a conversation with Toney-Finch on Thursday where he learned that the story about homeless veterans being displaced was false.

“The YIT Foundation purports to protect and support veterans, but the dishonest claims and fabrication of the facts by YIT does enormous harm to our homeless veterans by creating mistrust,” Maher said, referring to the foundation by its shortened name. “I am calling for an immediate investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office and the Orange County District Attorney into the YIT Foundation based on the new information that came to light today.”

“While I believed Sharon was telling the truth, I do want to apologize for those that have been negatively impacted since this news broke,” he added.

New York City’s mayor also called for an investigation into what he called a “fraudulent claim.”

“Instead of stepping up, we’re seeing hateful language and outright lies,” Adams said in a Twitter post.

On its website, the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation advertises its focus as helping raise awareness of premature births and assisting families with transportation and lodging while their infants are in neonatal intensive care units.

It also says it helps “homeless and low-income military service veterans in need of living assistance.”

New York says more than 65,000 migrants have arrived in the city over the past year, with the first of them bused by Republican governors in border states to draw attention to their displeasure over federal border policies.

United States News

Stuart Dryden reaches for an item at a grocery store on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Arlington, Va....

Associated Press

Consumers are pushing back against price increases at stores — and winning

Consumers are fighting back against food price increases by turning their backs on high-end brands and purchasing store-label products instead.

46 minutes ago

Rock Creek Forest Elementary School students exit a diesel bus before attending school, Friday, Feb...

Associated Press

Electric school buses finally make headway, but hurdles still stand

The first electric school buses in the United States began running a decade ago in three school districts in California, providing a ride that was much less noisy, smelly and dirty than the diesel buses kids and parents were used to. Yet despite the availability of the technology all these years, fewer than one percent […]

2 hours ago

A calendar shows the month of February, including leap day, Feb. 29, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in S...

Associated Press

Have a look at the whos, whats and whens of leap year through time

NEW YORK (AP) — Leap year. It’s a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why? Have a look at some of the numbers, history and lore behind the (not quite) every four year phenom that adds a 29th day to February. BY THE NUMBERS The […]

12 hours ago

FILE - Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim greets supporters outside Central High School on the day of the r...

Associated Press

Fatigue and frustration as final do-over mayoral election looms in Connecticut’s largest city

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — It’s been nearly four months since a judge tossed out the results of a Democratic mayoral primary in Connecticut’s largest city due to allegations of ballot stuffing, sending voters repeatedly back to the polls and thrusting Bridgeport into an unflattering national spotlight. Many frustrated local voters say they just want it […]

12 hours ago

Homes are seen on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in the southwest Portland, Ore., suburb of Beaverton. Th...

Associated Press

A housing shortage is testing Oregon’s pioneering land use law. Lawmakers are poised to tweak it

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A severe lack of affordable housing has prompted Oregon lawmakers to consider chipping away at a 1970s law that made the state a national leader in leveraging land use policy to prevent suburban sprawl and conserve nature and agriculture. The so-called urban growth boundary, a sacred cow of Oregon’s liberal politics, […]

12 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Group accused of making up story about homeless vets being evicted to make room for migrants