Yet the city has known about problems with CCS for years. Thomas Bransky had little experience with the homeless when he founded CCS in 2014, yet it quickly started winning fat city contracts to provide shelter services at hotels. Numerous red flags failed to slow the gravy train.
Indeed, CSS snagged a $600 million contract — even as city inspections found troubling problems at units it runs: broken cribs, electrical outlets that weren’t kid-proof and other unsafe conditions.
Inspectors have also uncovered hazards at hotel-shelter operations run by Acacia Network Housing, which has racked up $1 billion-plus in contracts since 2010 and has drawn its own probe.
Last year, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported that Bowery Residents’ Committee workers, paid to offer outreach to the homeless at Grand Central and Penn Station, instead spent much of their time in offices with signs that read “Closed.” The MTA “is not getting what it paid for, and riders and the homeless are suffering for it,” fumed DiNapoli.
Just this month, city Comptroller Scott Stringer found officials failing to properly monitor a $53 million program to prevent tenants from becoming homeless.
All told, the city is spending $3.2 billion on the homeless this year. For that price, shouldn’t it be getting decent services?
We get it: The number of homeless has soared, and the city can’t legally turn away anyone who’s legitimately in need of shelter. And finding competent, honest agencies to handle the volume isn’t easy — partly because reputable charities find the city so hard to work with.
City officials have only fueled the problem. Mayor Bill de Blasio installed a homeless advocate, Steve Banks, to oversee services, and qualifying for shelter (surprise!) has gotten easier. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is calling for hikes in the value of rental vouchers for the homeless, which will only attract more of them.
And officials are failing to properly monitor contracts and moving too slowly when problems are found. It’s one big lose-lose — for the homeless and for taxpayers.