The Real Deal New York

Investigation finds homeless shelters in shambles

Report unveils rusted stairways and vermin in many NYC buildings
March 12, 2015 02:40PM

The city’s homeless shelter system is suffering from deplorable conditions in many buildings, according to a Department of Investigation report released today.

The report unveiled shelters in grim states of disrepair and sanitation — including a dead rat that had been left on the floor for days in one building, a urine-soaked elevator in another, a dangerously rusted stairway, and an apartment with no living room furniture and no electricity.

New York City is obligated to provide shelter to all of its homeless residents, a number that skyrocketed to 60,000 a night this past November, up from 39,000 at the beginning of 2010, according to Crain’s. The city Department of Homeless Services spends about $360 million per year to pay mostly privately-run shelter operators.

“At its worst, DHS is turning a blind eye to violations that threaten the lives of shelter residents,” the report said.

The report also found that the DHS is in some cases over-paying for “cluster site” apartments, which are located in buildings that also house rent-paying residents. The city pays an average of $2,450 per month for these apartments, while average rent in some of the neighborhoods is only $1,200.

Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said in a statement that the department has asked for money to hire 19 new inspectors, closed two problematic shelters and fixed over half of the 600 building and fire code violations that the report points out. [Crain’s] — Tess Hofmann