‘Steven Banks must go’: Queens lawmaker petitions for city’s homeless services boss to be fired

Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich is again leading opposition to city Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steve Banks with a new petition on Change.org calling for the de Blasio administration official to be fired.

According to Ulrich, his call is a plea for better management of the homeless crisis through Section 8 and affordable housing to aid the population without a roof over their head estimated to be between 63,000 to 70,000 citywide.

“Tonight, more than 65,000 men, women and children will be sleeping in a city shelter — and thousands more on the streets and subways,” Ulrich wrote. “Mayor Bill de Blasio should fire Steven Banks for doing an abysmal job running the Department of Homeless Services. We demand real programs, solutions and accountability, but we will not see progress without real leadership. Steven Banks must go.”

A rally in front of Banks’ home in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, last month saw dozens of protestors who claimed the city was not transparent in the deployment of shelters which are often placed near schools. Residents across Queens have claimed that homeless residents near families are a hazard.

Ulrich also claims that building new shelters does not prevent homelessness nor does it focus on transitioning people out of facilities contracted by the city.

DHS, as per Mayor Bill de Blasio, has launched the Turning of the Tide on Homelessness, a plan that will place shelters in communities near where the individuals originate so they can have access to family and friends. The agency has began the process of phasing out the use of cluster sites and hotel conversions.

A tour of a shelter in Brooklyn with TimesLedger and DHS officials, including Banks, in August showed that most residents rehabilitate from the shelters within about eight months. Residents have access to mental health and medical services on-site and do not leave the property, operated by nonprofits, unless they check out at the front desk.

Ulrich was criticized by de Blasio in a recent appearance on NY1’s “Inside City Hall with Errol Louis,” during which the mayor shamed the Queens councilman for using the term “poverty pimps” in a CBS interview to describe the nonprofits contracted by the city to service homeless shelters.

Although there is not a goal for the petition to reach in terms of the number of signatures, a spokeswoman for Ulrich said the main objective is to urge to mayor to ultimately fire Banks.