UPDATED, March 30, 5:27 p.m.: The New York Attorney General’s office and the city are investigating Yitzchok Leshinsky, a friend and donor of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ran a nonprofit that was awarded more than $260 million to provide transitional housing for the city’s homeless.
Since 2006, the nonprofit, Housing Bridge, received contracts — $60 million of which were inked after de Blasio became mayor — from the city’s Department of Homeless Services to provide housing and social services for more than 1,000 families in Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the city Department of Investigation are looking into whether there was a conflict of interest for Housing Bridge to provide loans and advance payments to Leshinsky and his various businesses, which include a real estate firm and two job-training companies, DNAinfo reported.
Tax filings show Leshinsky (who also goes by Isaac) and his firms were given more than $5 million in loans and consulting fees from the nonprofit, which he founded in 2006. As CEO, his salary increased from $300,000 to $375,000, tax filings show, DNAinfo reported.
Housing Bridge, which is also known as Housing Partners of New York, loaned Leshinsky’s real estate firm Parkland Estates $464,329 and it received at least $525,000 in consulting fees, DNAinfo reported. Bridge Community Center LLC and Bridge to Employment LLC were compensated with almost $1.5 million before providing any services, and Leshinsky himself received nearly $840,000 in loans, according to the tax filings.
According to state law, a nonprofit must disclose any conflicts of interest when conducting business with someone inside the organization. Leshinsky resigned last year and an audit commissioned by Housing Bridge shows he owes them $3 million, DNAinfo reported.
Leshinsky and de Blasio have been friends for at least 10 years with both Leshinsky and his wife, Michelle donating to de Blasio’s campaign, DNAinfo reported. Since 2007, the Leshinskys donated $19,475 to the mayor’s campaign, according to DNAinfo.
“Every effort will be made to recover any and all taxpayer dollars per the city’s agreement with Housing Partners, while being careful not to interfere with ongoing investigations,” the Department of Homeless Services said in a statement. [DNAinfo] — Dusica Sue Malesevic
This post has been updated with a statement from the Department of Homeless Services.