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File photo/QNS
File photo/QNS
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has introduced legislation to create an inspector general to monitor DHS.

Queens is not immune to the homelessness crisis in New York that is causing both the city and state to scramble to find a solution to the growing number of homeless individuals and families entering the already taxed shelter system.

Now, one lawmaker wants to ensure that these shelter locations are up to code and no longer substandard.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley recently introduced legislation (Introduction 1591) that would create an inspector general for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), who would be responsible for monitoring DHS policies and practices.

According to Crowley, the DHS’ most recent scorecard shows approximately 16,000 open violations across city shelters.

“Far too many of the city’s shelter population are placed in substandard housing, in buildings with a wide range of dangerous conditions,” she said. “The city contracts with nonprofits for these shelters and pays them top dollar, yet the locations are crawling with thousands of violations that haven’t been addressed.”

The inspector general that would be created from Crowley’s proposed bill would staff an office with a director and personnel to investigating not only DHS but the Human Resources Administration (HRA) as well.

There is currently an inspector general through the Department of Investigation which oversees HRA, the Division of Youth and Family Justice, and the Administration for Children’s Services. This leaves the inspector general little room to focus on DHS’ flawed practices, Crowley said.

“We have a record number of homeless people in the shelter system, and too many families right now are in dangerous situations because DHS isn’t doing its job properly,” she added. “The city must put measures in place to keep a watchful eye exclusively on this crisis.”

The inspector general under Crowley’s legislation would be responsible for monitoring only DHS and the nonprofit organizations that it contracts with to operate city shelters for instances of corruption, fraud, waste, and misconduct.

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