From Critic to the Man in Charge

Monday, April 14, 2014

The New York City flag flies outside New York City Hall. The New York City flag flies outside New York City Hall. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

Steven Banks, commissioner of the Human Resources Administration and former head of the Legal Aid Society, talks about his new role inside city government and the man in charge of the department that serves New Yorkers in need of housing, food and other forms of assistance and supervision.


Steven Banks

Comments [7]

Ori Yomi

The one thing the Commisioner could look into is the the vendors, FEGS in particular, who are getting paid taxpayer money to find clients jobs but have utter contempt for the clients, get no bid contracts, and have no respect for HRA or its employees.

Apr. 16 2014 01:39 PM
Elizabeth Faraone from Plainfield, NJ

What would James Baldwin say about the HRA employee who claimed the poor were scamming? Perhaps that she didn't know love?

One of the biggest obstacles those of us who have been or are homeless in New York City face is coping with the abusiveness of those who work for HRA and the shelters. Unfortunately, they hire people who aren't very intelligent and have no compassion for the homeless. They seem to believe the propaganda the popular media has fed them - that we are less than human and are abusing the system.

Apr. 14 2014 02:02 PM
GR from Harlem

I am now employed, but when I was unemployed and on welfare, I applied for a one-shot rent deal in order to keep from being evicted. The HRA worker I spoke to actually lied to me about the time of my next appointment with her, I can only assume so she could then mark me as "non-compliant." Perhaps she had a limit on one-shot deals that she couldn't exceed? I have no idea, but I was actually evicted before I found my current job. If I hadn't slept on a friend's couch for a couple of months, I would have ended up homeless or in a shelter.

Apr. 14 2014 10:52 AM
KD from Manhattan

As a working person who pays taxes (a lot), I would like to know why it is inappropriate for a young person who can work, to do something for the benefits they receive? Clean a park, a subway station, etc. Or a sponsor of an immigrant to be asked to return some $$ for certain types of benefits paid out to an immigrant (I am one)? Too often, persons in need are talked about in discussions like this one, as if they're all the same. They are not. Sometimes people end up in dire circumstances through no fault of their own, and other times they are in the circumstance b/c of their own behavior. What's a person like my brother to do when he pays in excess of $1,500 for his apt, and a homeless family is moved into the apt next door and then impact the living environment by having their teenage kids playing in the hallway during hours when they should be at school, lying on the hallway floor, and hanging out in the building courtyard at all hours of night making noise? What, I wonder, does the commissioner have to say about my brother's rights?

Apr. 14 2014 10:44 AM
Mario from Washington Heights

Brian - will you ask Steve Banks to address the fact that one of the biggest problems at HRA are the workers at the welfare centers? There is a culture of people treating clients with disrespect and of not following the rules (and often of not even knowing the rules). I worked as a case-worker, and we spent all day speaking with supervisors trying to undo problems caused by workers who seemed to be closing cases just out of spite.

Steve knows that this is a huge problem, as does everyone who ever worked at Legal Aid.

Apr. 14 2014 10:43 AM
Jerry from Washington Heights

I am on food stamps and the various resources are very necessary. But there is fraud. People get food stamps and medicate and then go back to their home country. Leave food stamp card here with family who use it and often the person gets medical care in their country. The doctors there bill the care here through a cooperating doctor who put the bills through. Why not match up entries and leavings of US with Homeland Security to check on fraud??

Apr. 14 2014 10:42 AM
pliny from soho

to help seniors stay in their homes
please support the passage off the bill that would
expand SCRIE eligibility was introduced by state Assembly member Brian Kavanagh.

Apr. 14 2014 10:35 AM

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