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Queens City Council Members Want Department of Homeless Services Head Fired

Queens Council Members Robert Holden and Eric Ulrich (NYC Council)

May 8, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Queens Council Members Robert Holden and Eric Ulrich have called on the mayor to fire Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks for failing to properly manage the city’s homeless crisis.

The lawmakers, along with fellow city council member Joe Borelli, wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday demanding Banks be removed from his position citing the spike in the city’s homeless population. They said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the agency’s failings.

“While there is plenty of evidence of Commissioner Banks’ missteps during his tenure, the most damning fact is that the NYC homeless population has continued to rise to all-time highs since you appointed him,” they wrote.

They said that Banks had little to show for his six years in charge of the department and must be replaced.

The agency’s focus has not been on preventing homelessness and creating more affordable housing – but building “dozens of massive warehouse-like shelters,” they said.

This has perpetuated the problem because many homeless people view them as unsafe – especially during the pandemic – and do not want to stay in them, the lawmakers said.

The shelters, they argue, are not equipped to facilitate proper social distancing and as a result, many homeless people have opted to stay in subway stations and trains.

The council members said that the recent overnight closures of the system for cleaning has revealed the soaring number of homeless people using the subway as shelter.

At the same time, the influx of homeless people on the subway has put the safety of riders at risk of catching the coronavirus, they said.

“The street homeless are now cramming into subway cars at unprecedented levels due to MTA service cuts, leaving transit workers and commuters fearful for their own health,” the letter said.

Experts argue that the homeless are more prone to contracting and spreading the virus due to their inability to practice good hygiene.

The lawmakers also accused the agency’s homeless outreach teams of not forcing the homeless to leave the subways or streets even when they present a danger to themselves or others.

“Years of mismanagement, incompetence and excuses have led us to this present situation where a complete lack of transparency from the DHS is fueling public outcry and an absence of safety for everyone involved,” they said.

They said a major shift in policy and leadership is necessary if the city is going to properly address the homeless crisis.

“Moving forward, DHS will significantly need to alter its approach to housing the homeless after the pandemic is over, and we suggest replacing Steven Banks with someone who actually has the vision to tackle the root causes of homelessness.”

CM Holden Letter to Mayor R… by Queens Post on Scribd

email the author: [email protected]

12 Comments

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Mac

Hashtagger – I am a personal friend of Mr. Holden and in agreement with him on several if not most issues. He does not need a propagandist like you to come to his defense. You did not address one issue addressed by the author of the post. you attacked. What you did is throw together an abstract buzzword lace smoke screen tantrum which is yet another form of propaganda.

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#the

Actually you should be ashamed since you think it’s ok for the rest of us to be harassed by deranged people while we go to the few jobs still left or even get assaulted on our way home
Taxpayers and home owners have rights also
There is a holistic way of dealing with this but first the head of this agency needs to be fired for allowing the problem
To fester unless of course you enjoy living in Calcutta

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Racist Harriet

Things might change once more progressives stop playing the race card. The city and state is bound to be happier then.

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Harriet

Things might change once more whites become homeless in NYC. The city and state is bound to help them then.

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Tamara

Should fix the shelters instead of running them like jails. Then maybe homeless people will have confidence in them. Treat homeless people like human beings instead of like animals.

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Mike

Put the Department of Homeless Services Commissioner in a homeless shelter and let him run that.

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#dumpdeblasio

Big Bird will ignore this. The head of the Administration of Children’s Services should also be fired as well as Chancellor Carranza. DeBlasio has no business putting his wife in charge of anything. Where is the money from her Thrive program? Most of the homeless are mentally ill or drug/alcohol addicted. They need to be put into treatment programs first and vetted for what their exact needs are. The warehousing has to end.

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Abe

Subway evictions are creating a homeless problem on buses. Many homeless are refusing help and demanding to board shuttle buses so they could spend the night riding with the essential workers the system is intended to transport.

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Gia

Homelessness will continue to get worse. The NYC Rent Freeze program should be for all NYC renters.

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joe

The governor was shocked about bums sleeping in the nasty subways without masks? He’s a true genius. People who live thousands of miles away from the filthy NYC subways are fully aware of this, yet the governor was unaware.

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Marie

Out of sight, out of mind right? Where are they supposed to go? Shelters are usually packed, bed by bed. So if they die off in the shelter, you don’t need to house them. Problem solved?

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For shame

We get it Bob, you hate homeless people, homeless shelters, the fact that a homeless shelter was built in your neighborhood, etc. and will stop at nothing to show how you feel towards those in need. But this is disgusting and shows you as the petty, ignorant, and even vindictive person you are. The person in charge of homeless services deals with the results of policy decided by elected officials like yourself. Perhaps instead of protesting shelters and demonizing the people that live in them and run them, you should advocate for policies that help them and -most importantly in this acute economic catastrophe- prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. A lot of New Yorkers, and many of your constituents, are learning about how close they are to losing their housing as jobs remain closed and benefits do not materialize. Turning to the hate that got you elected, while not surprising, will not sustain your own job for long one hopes! Seriously, just look in the mirror once in a while and contemplate where you stand on complex issues. There are experts serving other council members. Perhaps reach out to them, consider hiring competent people to advise you, etc. so you can actually do your part to improve the lot of your fellow New Yorkers. If this is not what you’re doing, then it looks like you’re just firing out angry letters that do nothing but make things worse. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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