Basically all of the concerns the Q cited are damningly laid out in the report by the Department of Investigation. If you have interest in the issue of how the City handles its most vulnerable families, I encourage you to make your way through at least some of it here
At the bottom of this post is the Times editorial, but I encourage you to check out the WNYC segment that my neighbor Melvina, one of the few leased tenants at 60 Clarkson, appears in. This after we first starting squawking to everyone we could when we first learned of the absurdity inherent in making the City's worst landlords into partners. The extent of the "affordable housing" shortage in this City has created this perverse economic warp in the laws of decency.
I actually arranged a meeting with the provider of social service - CAMBA - and got stonewalled on every question. FYI, they wouldn't let any of the 60 Clarkson tenants attend that meeting, by some sort of "rule" against that sort of thing. What they were afraid of I'll never know - these are the people they're supposedly helping. Then I scheduled a phone meeting with the Department of Homeless Services last year, essentially by threatening more and more negative publicity for their inattention to even the findings of the City Comptroller's report on waste and abuse in the DHS system. What I encountered were decent people clearly weary of a Sisyphean task, and fully aware of the moral hazards involved in dealing with Barry Hers. One major hurdle, I learned, has been the phasing out of Section 8, then the abolishment of the program designed to replace it - Advantage NY. And while the homeless rolls push 60,000, there's yet to be a program that will move displaced people into truly subsidized housing or voucher programs. Maybe more to the point, who's going to take the vouchers anymore, now that middle class New Yorkers are venturing into once off-limits neighborhoods for housing of their own? Who but jerks like Barry Hers of course. And so the off-the-record advice to most of these families - move.
That's right. Move out of NYC. Move to places where you might find a squalid place to live, but you'll be lucky to find work, and the schools are even worse than Jackie Robinson where your kids currently attend. Does a mecca for poor people exist somewhere in the U.S. of A.? If so, I'd love to know where that is so I can coach my neighbors to move there. (And before the knuckleheads and their petitions quote me on that in their next petition to remove me from CB9 - yes, I'm being sarcastic.)
From the Times editorial on the enduring problem:
It isn’t just the dead-rat smell in the hallway, the holes in the walls, the locked exits and other rampant health and safety violations that make a new report on New York City’s homeless shelters so damning.
What is appalling about the report, released earlier this month by the city’s Department of Investigation, is the systemic collapse it reveals. It takes years to build a mess like this. New York has about 57,000 people in its shelters. The system is so strained for space that millions of dollars are spent to put people up in places known to be dangerous and squalid, because a dangerous, squalid place with a roof is considered better than the street.For years — maybe a decade, maybe longer — the city has failed to come to grips with its growing need for safe, clean shelter space for thousands of families. It has failed to create an effective system to investigate, expose, deter and punish landlords who let their buildings rot.
It has tolerated an essentially meaningless inspection regimen that uncovers only a fraction of violations — which don’t get fixed anyway, because there are no follow-ups and no consequences for ignoring a failed inspection. It has allowed private shelter providers to take millions of taxpayer dollars through per-diem arrangements, operating without contracts and leaving the city unable to demand repairs or impose penalties on negligent landlords.This debacle festered in the 12 years of the Bloomberg administration, and now it is Mayor Bill de Blasio’s problem to solve. The city should immediately fix the dangerous code violations exposed by the report, without waiting for action from the landlords.The Homeless Services Department needs to work with the Buildings Department, the Fire Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to make sure all of its 145 shelters, housing nearly 12,000 families, are up to code. It needs to move more clients into public housing and city-run shelters and end the reliance on “cluster” sites in derelict private apartment buildings where security is lacking and access to social services is negligible. And it needs to sign contracts with all of its outside providers, so it can force them to clean up and make repairs.The city has long been under a court-ordered obligation to give emergency shelter to anyone who needs it. But it has clearly been doing so with too little regard for clients’ safety and dignity.The de Blasio administration, which requested the investigation, says it generally accepts the recommendations of the report. It has already closed two badly run private shelters in the Bronx and says it may close more in coming months, applying more stringent inspection standards as the city moves forward with a task that should have been begun, in earnest, years ago.