NEW YORK -- New York City Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks and his staff have by several accounts consistently failed to deliver on a pledge of transparency when it comes to sharing true depth and cost of the city’s homeless shelter crisis with the public.
So when we noticed Commissioner Banks at Mayor Bill de Blasio's town hall in Brooklyn Thursday night during our reporting for an unrelated story on the end Gun Violence Awareness Month, we seized the opportunity, and approached him in the gym, after his staff denied our repeated email requests for a follow up interview.
Commissioner Banks warned us he could not discuss the report we aired earlier this week, which included the eye opening revelation that his agency placed two Level 3, or the most dangerous type of convicted sex offenders, in one of its "family" homeless shelters that houses both adults and children.
But late Friday afternoon, Commissioner Banks apparently changed his position in a drastic manner.
This news release, issued by New York State Senator Tony Avella, incredibly announced a promise from Banks that he “…made a commitment to no longer place Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in the Pan American homeless shelter.
The release also stated that Commissioner Banks also “…committed to finding a solution so that no family homeless shelters will be shared by Level 2 and 3 sex offenders.”
A DHS spokesperson confirms the news release statements attributed to Commissioner Banks.
To be clear, those news release statements contradict what Banks’ spokesman has been telling us.
In fact, prior to as well as after our report regarding sexual offenders inside the Pan Am, DHS would not provide us with a straight answer, about whether the agency had actually placed them there.