By Kevin Deutsch
A state lawmaker is calling for an audit of twelve nonprofit organizations responsible for helping the homeless access safe shelter and food in New York City.
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi sent a formal request to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli requesting the audit, which would compel the city’s homeless service providers to open their books amid an alarming rise in homelessness in the Bronx and elsewhere.
“While some providers use all of their resources appropriately and provide exemplary services, it is also clear that many providers are failing to achieve their mission. In fact, the overall average length of shelter stays has increased, as has the rate of clients subsequently returning after leaving,” Hevesi said in his letter to DiNapoli, according to the Daily News.
A survey by Coalition for the Homeless in January found nearly 64,000 homeless people living in city shelters, with the number at 62,391 as of September—the last month for which data from the organization was available.
Many of the homeless are children, experts said.
Data gathered by the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students, for example, identified 114,085, or one in ten, students as homeless during the 2018-2019 school year—including more than 34,000 living in city shelters.
More than 36,000 Bronx public school students were homeless during the school year, accounting for 32 percent of all homeless schoolkids in New York City, according to the data.
Instances of deadly violence, unsanitary food, and dangerous living conditions have plagued city shelters for years, even as nonprofit executives in charge of caring for the homeless rake in massive salaries.
The twelve biggest nonprofits involved in homeless care in the city each have contracts worth $200 million or more.
Hevesi, in his letter to DiNapoli, alleged that there are “webs of interconnected nonprofits and subsidiaries that pay each other large sums of taxpayer dollars for services with the same or financially connected executives,” adding that there have been “allegations of managerial misconduct, including the creation of a hostile work environment that promoted misogyny, bullying, abuse and harassment” at the organizations.
Some of the most serious violence at city shelters has occurred in the Bronx, including the murder of a 19-year-old mother by her boyfriend at a local homeless shelter in October.