City homeless czar Steven Banks has a lot to answer for in the wake of city Comptroller Scott Stringer’s latest damning report on shelter conditions.
It turns out Banks’ system has families with babies living in shelters with vermin infestations, exposed electrical outlets, mold and mildew.
Stringer’s new audit found the reprehensible conditions in a random review of 13 shelters, all of which had at least one health or safety violation. Nearly all the 91 individual units examined, 92 percent, had at least one violation; over a third, 32 units, had four or more violations.
In all, the auditors spotted 264 deficiencies, including missing or broken window guards and shoddy or poorly placed cribs.
Of course, deplorable shelter conditions aren’t new — yet the city keeps going back to operators who fall horribly short, time and again. Last year, for example, the Department of Homeless Services added hundreds of millions in new contracts for Childrens Community Services Inc., despite repeatedly citing it for multiple violations, from broken cribs, babies sleeping in “unsafe” areas and no kid-proof covers for electrical outlets.
Photos released with the new report show vermin droppings, live cockroaches, a crib placed directly next to an electrical outlet and so on. Stringer also points to DHS’s own statistics showing that some 50 infants die every year across New York City from preventable, sleep-related injuries, adding that DHS must do better for the families in their care.
DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn insists, “There is no higher priority than the health, well-being and safety of the New Yorkers we serve — particularly the youngest New Yorkers.” We guess that means DHS does even worse by all the non-infant homeless.
Before joining Team de Blasio, Banks spent his adult life advocating in the name of the homeless, repeatedly suing the city to create new “rights.” It seems that what works in the courtroom fails completely when it comes to actually providing for these most unfortunate New Yorkers.