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Commissioner at DHS resigns in shakeup

By Bill Parry

In a shakeup of the city’s beleaguered Department of Homeless Services, Gilbert Taylor is out as commissioner after two years at the post. The move comes as part of a comprehensive operational review of all city homeless services.

City Hall has come under fire for mishandling the homeless crisis that has nearly 58,000 living in shelters with another 3,000 to 4,000 estimated to be living on the streets,

“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks will take over DHS Jan. 1 while Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris will lead the comprehensive review.

Taylor was not a popular figure among the borough’s elected officials and community leaders since he opened a shelter for homeless at the Pan Am hotel in Elmhurst with little or no notice, a practice he has repeated twice in East Elmhurst and most recently in Dutch Kills.

“As the chair of the Task Force on the Delivery of Social Services in New York City, it was incredibly important that the DHS was capable of acknowledging there was a problem so that we could find solutions,” state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said. “Unfortunately, under Gilbert Taylor, there was an abject failure to self-critique and an unwillingness to communicate.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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