2015-05-13 / Front Page

Critical Repairs Needed

BY JOYCE VETERE MILOWSKI AND DAN MILLER


Mayor Bill de Blasio announces a new city initiative to make needed repairs at the city’s homeless shelters in a reasonable amount of time. 
Photo by Dan Miller/DMD IMAGES Mayor Bill de Blasio announces a new city initiative to make needed repairs at the city’s homeless shelters in a reasonable amount of time. Photo by Dan Miller/DMD IMAGES On May 11, Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Corona to inspect a local city homeless shelter and make an announcement about funding for a new initiative to help make needed repairs in the system of more than 600 buildings housing the homeless.

The mayor, flanked by Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, made the announcement in the parking lot of 138-01 112th St., at a city homeless shelter in Corona.

“Today I am going to talk about a new initiative where we will deploy hundreds of special ‘SWAT’ teams to address critical repairs in homeless shelters all over the city. We are going to help ensure that every shelter is safe and healthy. This is going to be an all hands on deck effort,” said de Blasio.

Simply stated, the new plan will engage a number of city agencies working together to locate and address the hundreds of problems, violations and health and safety hazards that plague the city’s homeless shelters.

Each of the city’s agencies involved in the intergovernmental agency initiative has assigned teams to both inspect and make needed repairs in a timely fashion, with some repairs to begin within a week after a city Shelter Repair Squad report is made.

The mayor has funded the program with $12.5 million through 2016. Further funding will be decided on future costs of needed repairs.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for taking steps to correct decades of longstanding health and safety violations in our city shelter system,” said Ferreras.

Van Bramer, a product of the homeless system as a child attended the press conference with his mother, who also knows very well how troubling life can be when you do not have a permanent place to live.

“Growing up, my family spent a brief period of time in a homeless shelter. The vast majority of those in our city’s shelters are simply down on their luck and need a helping hand to get back on their feet,” said City Council Majority Leader Van Bramer.

The Shelter Repair Squad, an interagency team, will be led by Deputy Mayors Anthony Shorris and Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and will also include the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), Fire Department (FDNY), Department of Buildings (DOB), Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), with each agency assigning teams to both inspections and repairs.

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