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PIX11 investigation triggers change in the NYC homeless crisis

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NEW YORK -- After more than two dozen reports on the homeless crisis focusing on a lack of security in New York City’s sprawling network of corporate homeless hotels, Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks finally acknowledged the potentially dangerous conditions PIX11 has been showing you for months, as we walked into hotel after hotel, unchecked by any security, right up to the floors where the city houses the homeless.

Commissioner Banks announced the security reforms during a Friday taping of PIX11 News Close Up with Marvin Scott.

“Well this is a grave concern to us too. When I spoke with Jay I think toward the end of May, I spoke to him on a Friday, the next week we called in FJC security, Comm. Banks said. "We called in JFC because we had concerns once you had raised this issue with us - we hadn’t yet seen the tapes, which of course reinforced the concerns we had. We levied some fines. Our contract provides the ability to levy fines if security is not provided the way we want it to be. We required them to change the staffing, to ensure there would be a supervisor on each shift, and then we asked the NYPD to then go out, or to supervise an evaluation of whether or not there was actually in place, and they reported back to me that there now was."

But we went back to the NYPD again and a senior official reiterated the department’s response, telling PIX11 News not only is the NYPD’s review complete, but that recommendations were made weeks ago, and any future security issues that exist inside the homeless hotels are DHS’s responsibility - not the NYPD’s.

That was the NYPD’s position last month, and following our latest conversation with the department, that position has not changed.

A growing number of elected officials in the New York metro area, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, have criticized the de Blasio administration’s use of corporate hotels to house the homeless.

Ultimately, based on what we are now hearing from Commissioner Banks, it seems clear the city still has no alternative to relying so heavily on homeless hotels.