In as classic a case of rewarding failure as you’ll ever see, the city’s Department of Homeless Services is renewing its main contract for the Bowery Residents’ Committee to do key work in getting homeless out of subways and mass-transit stations – despite it. the nonprofit’s beyond-spot record.
Heck, BRC is getting a raise, from $ 40.6 million in the expiring three-year contract to $ 68.5 million in the new deal.
This, when the MTA’s inspector general recently flagged the outfit’s work as both “very expensive” and “minimally effective.”
“On the nights OIG staff observed the program, dozens of apparently homeless individuals stayed on the trains for every 1 that accepted services,” noted IG Carolyn Pokorny’s report. In all, 10-person teams of MTA cops and BRC social workers could only lure three transients out of the system per station per night.
In recent months the nonprofit has charged at least $ 2.6 million beyond its contract to cover overtime costs – even as clearly Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order to close the subways overnight is really driving better results.
The IG probe was launched after state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli called the “shoddy” homeless outreach work done on subways in January. He also pointed to a lack of oversight by the city and the MTA, saying BRC workers spend just 26 percent of their time conducting in-person outreach to homeless individuals – half the amount of time required by the firm’s contract.
And in February, The Post reported on how the nonprofit’s workers went missing in Penn Station for days after one vagrant threatened to shoot the BRC staffers.
A DHS flack insists that “BRC is an essential partner in the effort to help New Yorkers live unsheltered on the subways get back on their feet, along with the MTA.” And: “We need their experience, expertise and collaboration every step of the way.”
No: DHS needs to stop doubling down on a hopeless approach, and look for one that actually works.