Steven Banks, NYC Commissioner In Charge Of Reducing Homelessness, Will Resign

Steven Banks, NYC Commissioner In Charge Of Reducing Homelessness, Will Resign

Steven Banks, town’s social providers commissioner who led the de Blasio Administration’s effort to scale back homelessness, will step down on the finish of the yr, ending a combined eight-year tenure that drew criticism from each homeless advocates and people against town’s shelter enlargement plan.

A former Authorized Support lawyer, Banks plans to hitch the Manhattan-based regulation agency Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the place he’ll lead its professional bono apply, in response to a press launch. Metropolis Limits, the New York Publish and the New York Occasions reported information of Banks’ resignation.

When he was first tapped in 2014, Banks was hailed as one in all a number of activists who may convey progressive change within the metropolis’s insurance policies towards the poor. For 20 years, he was considered as a pointy and undaunted critic of each the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations and their approaches in the direction of homelessness. 

As the top of the Division of Social Companies, Banks managed a employees of 16,000 metropolis staff with an annual price range of $12 billion.

His supporters mentioned Banks’ largest accomplishment has been in serving to these dealing with evictions acquire a proper to authorized illustration, a widely-praised initiative that helped round 100,000 New Yorkers, in response to the mayor’s workplace.

In a press release, Dave Giffen, the manager director of Coalition for the Homeless, mentioned, “Commissioner Banks has had a long and impressive public service career dedicated to helping homeless and low-income New Yorkers, having brought and resolved landmark litigation on their behalf and worked from inside City government to shepherd critical reforms in recent years.”

However the homeless disaster skyrocketed below his management. In 2014, the variety of folks sleeping in a homeless shelter each evening averaged round 53,000 per 30 days. It climbed to a peak of greater than 63,000 in 2018, a roughly 19% improve.

In current years, the shelter inhabitants has since fallen again below 50,000, largely as a consequence of a halt on evictions that has saved extra households out of the shelter system. That eviction moratorium is predicted to finish in January.

De Blasio has himself cited homelessness when requested about his largest failure. In the meantime, specialists, together with homeless advocates, constantly faulted the mayor for failing to construct a enough quantity of reasonably priced housing for very low-income New Yorkers — the foundation reason behind homelessness, they argued.

In 2019, after vital stress from activists and Metropolis Council members, the mayor permitted laws that forces builders of sure tasks to incorporate items for the homeless.

A few of the harshest critics of Banks have been those that opposed town’s enlargement of homeless shelters and use of inns through the pandemic to briefly home people.

“Silver Lining Alert: Warehouse shelter sham artist Steve Banks is finally on his way out,” said Queens City Councilmember Robert Holden, in a statement.

He accused Banks of running an “unchecked business for the shelter-industrial complex at the expense of the homeless and our neighborhoods” and called for an investigation. Recent in-depth stories by the New York Times have uncovered unethical or illegal practices by homeless shelter operators who have won lucrative contracts from the city. The mayor has said the city has no choice but to use outside contractors to help manage a massive network of shelters and services.

At the same time, homeless advocates criticized what they saw as the city’s increasingly aggressive approach toward removing homeless New Yorkers from street encampments and subways. Last year, activists decried a decision by the city to move homeless men from an Upper West Side hotel called the Lucerne as a surrender to NIMBYism. 

Still, news of Banks’ departure came as somewhat of a surprise. There was speculation that Banks would continue in the post after Mayor-elect Eric Adams praised him as someone who brought “fresh ideas.”

De Blasio did not address Banks’ impending departure during his morning press briefing. However, the law firm’s press release did include a statement from the mayor.

“For the past eight years, Commissioner Steve Banks has been a fearless advocate for the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” de Blasio mentioned. “His unwavering commitment to serving the most disadvantaged and building a fairer city makes him the perfect choice to join Paul, Weiss to provide pro bono legal aid.”

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