“Slumlords” donate to De Blasio, one of their biggest critics

From left: Bill de Blasio and Robert Hess
From left: Bill de Blasio and Robert Hess

Updated, 12:43 p.m., Sept. 9: A group of landlords that has earned millions of dollars operating homeless shelters made a big bet on Public Advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio, despite his vocal criticism of slumlords and his denunciation of the city’s approach to the homeless.

Landlords who work with the city’s Department of Homeless Services donated over $35,000 to his campaign, city and state campaign finance records show.

The majority of the money came from landlords of single-room-occupancy hotels and apartment buildings that operate as shelters run by Housing Solutions USA, according to an analysis of the records by New York Magazine. Housing Solutions USA is run by Robert Hess, formerly Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s commissioner of homeless services and a frequent target of de Blasio’s criticisms.

Hess, who declined to comment to New York, has personally given just $400 to de Blasio, but in May 2012 held a fundraiser for the candidate.

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De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan told New York that the contributions did not influence de Blasio’s stance as a strong opponent of such shelters operated by private landlords.

An investigation earlier this week by the New York Daily News revealed that de Blasio had taken donations from DelShah Capital’s Michael Shah and then met with the landlord, who discussed his need to reduce his tax burden on a number of his buildings that housed low-income tenants. [NY Mag]  – Hiten Samtani

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated de Blasio’s effect on Shah’s tax bill, due to an error in the original New York Daily News story. Shah discussed the tax bill with de Blasio, but there is no evidence to suggest that de Blasio helped him lower it.