NYC oversight of homeless prevention program insufficient, audit finds

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NYC oversight of homeless prevention program insufficient, audit finds

The city comptroller’s office found the Human Resources Administration failed to consistently review case files from providers.
January 23, 2020

The New York City Human Resources Administration has inadequately conducted oversight of nonprofit providers managing a $53 million homelessness prevention program, according to an audit report from the city comptroller’s office.

The office found that the agency failed to consistently review case files from providers running the Homebase program, which offers eviction prevention assistance, help accessing public benefits, and other services for those at risk of facing homelessness. When the program’s records were reviewed, city employees often discovered missing documentation. The audit also flagged the agency for not recouping $2.3 million in advance payments, which are given to contractors before they provide services, for seven contracts closed out in 2017.

“In such instances, funds that should be used to help Homebase clients will instead be inappropriately paid to providers for services that were not provided,” the report read.

Currently, seven nonprofits hold Homebase contracts with the city: HELP USA, BronxWorks, Catholic Charities Community Services, Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, CAMBA, RiseBoro Community Partnership, and Services for the UnderServed. 

The report comes after New York City faced renewed criticism over its homeless outreach initiatives this week. Police and homeless advocacy groups found themselves unlikely allies as they each criticized the mayor’s initiative to let homeless people violating subway rules avoid penalties by accessing social services.

“The homeless are now clearly being targeted as violators of transit rules and being treated differently than any other citizen,” reads a letter published by Human.nyc and Coalition for the Homeless that is said to be from anonymous police officers. Human.nyc also published videos showing how police have conducted this outreach.

“The NYPD’s current Subway Diversion program is not really helping the homeless, because there is not enough long-term investment in the mental health treatment and other assistance they need,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.
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