As head of Homeless Services steps down, nonprofits wary about what’s in store

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that Gilbert Taylor, the commissioner of the city Department of Homeless Services, is stepping down, marking a major shake-up in the city’s human services leadership and inspiring mixed reactions from the nonprofit human services sector.


Mary Brosnahan, president and CEO of Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit advocacy group, praised Taylor’s leadership, arguing that the city’s current challenges stem from inherited policies.


“Gilbert Taylor began the important work of transitioning DHS away from the failed Bloomberg-era policies, focusing instead on moving homeless New Yorkers into permanent housing,” Brosnahan said.


Effective Jan. 1, Taylor will be reassigned to “an advisory role” within City Hall as the city undertakes its first reorganization of homeless services in over two decades. After the reorganization, Taylor has announced his intention to “pursue new professional opportunities.”


The upcoming review and reorganization of relevant city agencies will be led by Steven Banks, commissioner of the Human Resources Administration, and First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, according to a statement from City Hall. During this review, Banks will oversee both DHS and HRA, the statement said.


The reorganization comes as the de Blasio administration continues to face tough questions about its handling of homelessness in the city. The city’s homeless shelter population has spiked during his tenure, peaking at over 59,000 individuals, and his administration is also anticipating a rise in the number of “street homeless” – individuals sleeping in public spaces – according to projections included in the annual Mayor’s Management Report.  


“Tackling homelessness is an urgent priority – and that’s why we have invested additional resources and launched innovative new initiatives to place homeless individuals and families into permanent housing, and to prevent homelessness in the first place,” de Blasio said in the statement.


De Blasio credited Taylor with major improvements to the city’s homeless services, citing the over 22,000 people who have moved out of shelters and into permanent housing under his tenure.


“There is no question that our current homeless problem would be far more pronounced without these reforms, and Gilbert has been essential to their implementation,” de Blasio said.


But even as the mayor cited his administration’s current efforts to combat homelessness, some advocates for the human services sector expressed concern about the dwindling number of leaders at City Hall specifically dedicated to the sector.


“We’re worried about the lack of city leadership,” one advocate said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The human services sector is now down a commissioner and a deputy mayor,” the advocate continued, referring to the departure of Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli earlier this year, who oversaw Taylor’s efforts at DHS.


Others in the nonprofit sector expressed gratitude that the administration reached out directly to front-lines providers about the momentous recalibration in leadership.


“On this day of very serious transition, they made the effort to reach out to my members, who really are the stakeholders,” said Christy Parque, executive director of Homeless Services United. “That marks a big change from past administrations, that our members are really included in the conversation. That says a lot right there, and I think that sets a great tone.”


Parque also hoped that the transition might usher in a different communications strategy on homelessness from City Hall.


“I’m looking forward to the city leadership sharing with not just our clients but the general public, that there are many opportunities available and that shelter is not the only solution to homelessness,” Parque said. “I think that piece has been lost, and has been overshadowed by some of the press, which really hasn’t reflected the best of New York.”


Many advocates welcomed Banks’ leadership in the reorganization, citing his accomplishments at HRA — including new rental assistance programs and exit pathways for shelter residents — as steps in the right direction.


"Commissioner Banks has brought important changes to HRA and we look forward to working with him on this review,” said Allison Sesso, executive director of the Human Services Council, an organization that advocates on behalf of the human services sector. "For HSC and our members, the most pressing issue is that client needs are addressed, and we greatly appreciate that the mayor is restructuring to ensure the best services in communities.”


The Human Services Council also expressed optimism that City Hall’s review of homeless services – including its procurement policies – could improve the nonprofit sector’s ability to provide services.


"It is great news that Commissioner Banks and First Deputy Mayor Shorris are examining how contracting with nonprofits is performed in the agencies,” said Michelle Jackson, associate director and general counsel of the Human Services Council.


"This is a real opportunity to bring together multiple city agencies and current contractors to examine the pain points in the contracting process – like registration and payment delays – and to discuss new approaches and collaborate on programs that will really move the needle on homelessness,” Jackson added.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.