February 1, 2016
NEW YORK––As part of the effort to improve conditions in homeless shelters, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a Shelter Repair Scorecard to publicly report on the conditions of homeless shelter facilities and track progress made by the expanded repair program to address sub-standard conditions. Data shows that increased inspections have been finding more violations than ever before, and that City and shelter providers have cleared more than 26,000 violations over the last two years.
“We are determined to give every family and individual in a homeless shelter decent living conditions. We have been increasing inspections to identify problems, and we now have a scorecard to track our progress in addressing them. Many of these violations are long-standing problems stemming from a lack of funding. We are increasing our repair work for all shelters and have increased our funding for not-for-profit shelter providers. We won’t rest until every shelter meets standards,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The new Shelter Repair Scorecard defines the scope of the problem by listing conditions at all homeless shelters in New York City that do not meet applicable regulations, and makes it possible to track progress in dealing with them.
The data shows:
Last month, the Administration announced a plan to phase out the use of cluster shelters – where the majority of the violations are found. As the City ends the use of cluster shelters, returning them to the market so that the apartments can serve as low-rent housing, it will insist that building owners bring their buildings up to code, and will work to ensure that they remain part of the City’s rent-regulated stock or enter an affordability program.
The City has substantially increased its inspections of shelters and its identification of problems. Some examples include the following:
The City is already at work fixing violations and will work with shelter providers to resolve the remaining violations.
The City also has adopted some recommendations from shelter providers on how to most effectively improve conditions in the shelter. For example, because many shelters find it difficult to pay the cost of having a repair re-inspected to prove the violation was cleared, HPD is offering limited free inspections for nonprofit providers who have violations that have been repaired but not cleared. The City has also agreed to:
As noted, the City has already met with providers and committed to improving funding for maintenance and repairs beyond the increases already in the budget.
“This new initiative is part of the 90-day review of homeless services that the Mayor ordered on December 15, 2015. We have taken a number of immediate steps to identify and fix shelter conditions that have built up over many years, including increasing funding to address maintenance and capital needs for not-for-profit organizations that are essential to providing decent shelter for homeless New Yorkers,” said Human Resources Commissioner Steven Banks.
“It’s impossible to fix problems and ensure proper maintenance if you don’t identify and track the problems. That’s why the City will rigorously inspect shelters and make sure they meet all the relevant standards. Where we find problems, we will work with the shelter providers and landlords to fix them, and we will hold those who refuse to fix problems, or who cannot manage the buildings appropriately, accountable,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been.
“We will hold all shelters to a high standard, including our own. The City is setting an example by putting in place a plan for each shelter building it owns,” said the Mayor’s Office of Operations Director Mindy Tarlow. “We will ensure this process is transparent, and that the City will record progress through our Shelter Repair Scorecard.”
The new Shelter Repair Scorecard contains:
All open violations are reported as of a set date, in this case December 31, 2015. While some violations may have been repaired, documentation of the repairs may not have been processed as of that date; those repairs will be reflected in a later scorecard.
The Shelter Repair Scorecard starts with data as of December 31, 2015. The information will be updated monthly. Shelter addresses are not included due to confidentiality requirements of the New York State Social Services Law.
It is important to note that shelter providers who lease the property may have limited ability to require the owner to make repairs. The City is moving to put all shelters under contract to improve its ability to require and fund repairs.
The Administration is moving to improve conditions in homeless shelters by:
“We’re proud to work with the Mayor and our partner agencies to promote safe, code-compliant housing for our city’s most vulnerable residents,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler.
“The Fire Department is committed to securing the safety of every New Yorker, especially our most vulnerable populations. Through extensive biannual inspections of homeless shelters, our members will make certain that each facility has the required fire protection and prevention practices in place to keep residents safe,” said Commissioner the Fire Department Daniel A. Nigro.
"Living conditions are key determinants of public health, and the Health Department is pleased to participate in the effort to improve conditions in shelters by holding operators to the same standards as other landlords," said Department of Health and Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett.
Since taking office, the de Blasio Administration has moved over 22,000 homeless individuals into permanent housing through newly created rental assistance programs and exit programs, and served over 91,000 New Yorkers with homelessness prevention service. The Administration has also:
"We cannot rest until every New Yorker, regardless of their economic circumstances, has a safe place to lay their head,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “If we are to curb our city's homelessness crisis, we must be committed to true accountability that accurately assesses our successes and shortcomings, leading to meaningful reform. The Shelter Repair Scorecard is a meaningful step for people inside and outside of government to track the City's progress and expedite needed fixes in our system."
“Transparency and regular, open metrics are often the first step on the path to fixing long-neglected problems,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I commend the mayor’s continuing commitment to steadily improving conditions in our homeless shelters and dramatically reducing homelessness.”
“Vulnerable New Yorkers deserve to know that the shelters they rely on are safe and well maintained,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of General Welfare Committee. “By identifying and aggressively correcting violations in shelters and making that data available to the public, we will restore trust in the system and encourage homeless individuals to come in off the street. I commend Mayor de Blasio for the significant progress made over the past two years, and I look forward to working with the Administration to continue overseeing and improving the shelter system and other services that are critically important to New Yorkers in need.”
“Homeless families have a legal right to safe and habitable shelter,” said Adriene Holder, Attorney in Charge of Civil Practice at the Legal Aid Society. “We are encouraged that the City has taken steps to correct the damage caused by many years of neglect by the State and City agencies charged with maintaining shelters, and that the Administration will restore the cluster site shelter units to the City’s affordable rent-regulated housing stock.”
"All New Yorkers deserve a healthy and safe place to live – and living in a homeless shelter should be no exception, said Alyssa Aguilera, Political Director of VOCAL-NY. “The Shelter Repair Scorecard will be an important tool in assessing the quality-of-life in New York City homeless shelters, and allows the public to hold the city accountable for making necessary changes. We look forward to working with the de Blasio Administration to improve shelter conditions, as well as other policies to connect homeless New Yorkers to permanent, affordable housing."
“We thank the Mayor for his focus on improving shelter conditions, and the increased resources that will enhance our ability to provide safe, secure and homelike environments for homeless families and individuals. SCO stands ready to support the Mayor in this effort,” said Douglas O’Dell, Executive Director of SCO Family of Services.
“The de Blasio Administration’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and – most of all – new resources will improve conditions in shelters citywide. On behalf of so many of our clients who call the shelter system their home, we welcome the new Shelter Scorecard as an important tool for addressing long neglected shelter conditions,” said Marla Simpson, Executive Director of Brooklyn Community Services