The likely next mayor, Eric Adams, was right when he said city homeless czar Steven Banks has done “amazing things” — but not in the way he meant: In eight years, Banks has managed to give almost 30 percent of $15.8 billion in city shelter contracts to sleazy nonprofit outfits.
An analysis by The Post’s Nolan Hicks found that, over the course of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s nearly eight years in office, $4.6 billion worth of those contracts filled the coffers of eight scandal-tarred shelter operators.
The leaders of those sketchy agencies have been accused of misconduct ranging from failing to deliver on multimillion-dollar contracts to executive profiteering.
- CORE Services CEO Jack Brown is allegedly at the center of lucrative (for him) transactions involving both the nonprofit and affiliated for-profit companies.
- Victor Rivera, head of the nonprofit Bronx Parents Housing Network was arrested and charged in an alleged bribery and kickback scheme and later ousted from BPHN amid sexual harassment and assault allegations.
- Acacia Network holds $1.5 billion in DHS shelter contracts, and its executives were the subject of a Department of Investigation probe after reports showed they failed to disclose they had established a for-profit security contractor.
- The state attorney general’s office has investigated politically connected Bronx homeless services provider Aguila Inc., which won nearly $170 million in contracts from DHS;
- The Bowery Residence Committee has taken $770 million in contracts from DHS to run shelters and provide outreach services, although BRC offices are rarely open and it has been described as “minimally effective.”
Lax oversight by DHS, the Mayor’s Office of Contracting and the city comptroller leaves shelter contracts as tempting targets for crooked operators. But de Blasio won’t change things. He told reporters last week, “It’s not as simple as just getting rid of everyone who does anything wrong anytime they do it — because there would be very few [providers] left.”
For years, homeless advocates have complained that the Department of Homeless Services’ underfunding of shelter operations and failure to make timely payments forced out well-established, competent vendors and opened the door to unscrupulous providers. But Banks, himself a lifelong homeless advocate, doesn’t seem to care.
The sooner de Blasio and Banks exit city government, the better off taxpayers and the homeless will be.