You are reading

Queens City Council Members Want Department of Homeless Services Head Fired

Queens Council Members Robert Holden and Eric Ulrich (NYC Council)

May 8, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Queens Council Members Robert Holden and Eric Ulrich have called on the mayor to fire Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks for failing to properly manage the city’s homeless crisis.

The lawmakers, along with fellow city council member Joe Borelli, wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday demanding Banks be removed from his position citing the spike in the city’s homeless population. They said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the agency’s failings.

“While there is plenty of evidence of Commissioner Banks’ missteps during his tenure, the most damning fact is that the NYC homeless population has continued to rise to all-time highs since you appointed him,” they wrote.

They said that Banks had little to show for his six years in charge of the department and must be replaced.

The agency’s focus has not been on preventing homelessness and creating more affordable housing – but building “dozens of massive warehouse-like shelters,” they said.

This has perpetuated the problem because many homeless people view them as unsafe – especially during the pandemic – and do not want to stay in them, the lawmakers said.

The shelters, they argue, are not equipped to facilitate proper social distancing and as a result, many homeless people have opted to stay in subway stations and trains.

The council members said that the recent overnight closures of the system for cleaning has revealed the soaring number of homeless people using the subway as shelter.

At the same time, the influx of homeless people on the subway has put the safety of riders at risk of catching the coronavirus, they said.

“The street homeless are now cramming into subway cars at unprecedented levels due to MTA service cuts, leaving transit workers and commuters fearful for their own health,” the letter said.

Experts argue that the homeless are more prone to contracting and spreading the virus due to their inability to practice good hygiene.

The lawmakers also accused the agency’s homeless outreach teams of not forcing the homeless to leave the subways or streets even when they present a danger to themselves or others.

“Years of mismanagement, incompetence and excuses have led us to this present situation where a complete lack of transparency from the DHS is fueling public outcry and an absence of safety for everyone involved,” they said.

They said a major shift in policy and leadership is necessary if the city is going to properly address the homeless crisis.

“Moving forward, DHS will significantly need to alter its approach to housing the homeless after the pandemic is over, and we suggest replacing Steven Banks with someone who actually has the vision to tackle the root causes of homelessness.”

CM Holden Letter to Mayor R… by Queens Post on Scribd

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.

These Queens eateries are participating in the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week is underway, so nix that skillet and bring family and friends to your favorite neighborhood spot, or get inspired and break bread somewhere new and different. During this special citywide culinary event, food-lovers will enjoy curated menus and prix-fixe prices that are easy on the wallet.

Bookings began on Jan. 17 and are available until Feb. 12, and you can reserve a table at 30 participating Queens restaurants, along with hundreds more across the five boroughs.