On Thursday March 12, a 54-page report conducted by the Department of Investigations (DOI) on the subject of homeless shelter conditions was released. It was worse than expected. Here’s a summary of the DOI homeless shelters report: puddles of urine and other horrid conditions.
Some locations were rat-infested. Puddles of urine in one of the building’s only working elevator, rust and zero carbon monoxide detectors were just a few of hundred of violations discovered during the investigations requested by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The report states that there are currently 11,900 families housed in one of the 145 shelters and other 16 clusters (which are temporary housing sites) administered by the Department of Homeless Services. The conclusion investigators came to was that the shelters were “too often unsafe and unhealthy for children and families” and that aggressive and immediate measures needed to be taken.
The report also pointed out that these issues have existed for some time now, and are a “result of decades of neglect”. It was also specified that some measures had already been taken. Two of the investigated locations have already been closed.
A total of 25 shelters and cluster sites were inspected in 2014 by city investigators in collaboration with the Fire Department, the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The process lasted about a year. In the end, a total of 621 violations were detected.
Commissioner of the Department of Investigation Mark G. Peters made the following statement:
“Dangerous living conditions, rat-and-roach infested residences, and fire violations are the stark reality facing too many homeless families and children in the city’s shelters.”
The worst living conditions were reported at the cluster sites. About 3,000 homeless families try to live here but the safety and health conditions offered are impossible. In one such location, a dead rat was found in an apartment and its stench stretched along the hallways. Among some of the detected fire and building violations there were obstructed corridors, closed exits and missing or broken carbon monoxide detectors.
Shelters also presented many issues. Some of the buildings which were hotels in the past but now turned into homeless shelters were overrun by rodents. Other shelters presented poor maintenance and fire safety issues and many broken fixtures.
The DOI report also described many of the shelters having inappropriate occupancy certificates or lacking them completely.
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