LIU TO DEPT. OF HOMELESS SERVICES: DUMP AGUILA AND GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER
New Audit Highlights Continued Failures of Agency and of Shelter Operator
John C. Liu called on the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to
discontinue its use of shelter provider Aguila
Inc. in light of repeated failures to account for millions of dollars
spent and the continued placement of people in shelters that are unsafe
or unclean. He also called on City Hall to drop its lawsuit against the
Comptroller’s office with regards to proposed
contracts with Aguila.
“Despite their claims to the contrary, Aguila’s appalling record has not improved and DHS continues to turn a blind eye. At this point, DHS should just dump Aguila as a shelter operator, and City Hall should direct its resources towards fixing DHS rather than litigating against my office,” Comptroller Liu said. “Continued dysfunction is a grave disservice to the homeless in need as well as communities whose concerns and input have been bypassed.”
A new audit underscores a fraught history with DHS and Aguila. In a November 2011 audit, Liu called on DHS to recoup $1.4 million from Aguila and examine another $9 million in bills to see if taxpayers were entitled to recover more.
Today’s audit found that DHS has recouped only $558,412, and didn’t even investigate more than half of the total $10.4 million identified by the earlier audit as improper or insufficiently supported payments.
Additionally, the audit found the following deficiencies with DHS operations:
· The agency continued to do business without written agreements, in violation of the City Charter;
· DHS did not adequately explain how rates the City paid for different shelters were set;
· DHS did not appropriately follow up after more than 80 percent of units subject to spot inspections failed.
The audit also found that, as of June 2013, Aguila facilities owed the City $605,439 in unpaid water and sewer charges.
In light of the multitude of problems, rather than reining in Aguila, DHS rewarded it instead. DHS payments for Aguila-operated shelters surged from $46.3 million in Fiscal Year 2011 to $57.1 million in Fiscal Year 2013.
The new audit made 18 new recommendations. They include:
· Periodically review Aguila per diem rates, allocation plans, and budget line items to ensure accuracy, reasonableness, and appropriateness, and ensure items are adequately supported.
· Further investigate and recoup the balance of funds as identified in the previous audit.
· Enter into written contracts with Aguila for directly-operated facilities that, at minimum, specify or restrict how funds may be expended.
· Immediately eliminate the practice of placing clients in facilities with hazardous and unsanitary conditions.
· Conduct surprise inspections and vary the inspectors.
· Ensure that all Aguila facilities pay their City fines and water and sewer charges.
November 2011, Liu audit calls on DHS to recoup money from Aguila: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/
May 2013, Liu proposes vouchers to help homeless families: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-
content/uploads/2013/07/ 20130509_NYC_ RentalSubsidyProgram_v12.pdf
May 2013, Liu issues report on how Mayor Bloomberg’s shelter policies are failing communities and the homeless: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-
content/uploads/documents/ 20130509_NYC_ ShelterSiteReport_v24_May.pdf
June 2013, the State Supreme Court, Bronx County rules in favor of the Comptroller’s office in a suit challenging the Mayor’s practice of establishing shelters and paying for those services without going through required public procurement processes. Liu statement: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/
July 2013, Liu rejects Aguila shelter contracts in the South Bronx and West 95th Street in Manhattan: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/
LIU ISSUES CITY’S COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL
FINANCIAL REPORT FOR FY 2013
FINANCIAL REPORT FOR FY 2013
“Economic growth improved in Fiscal Year 2013 compared with the previous year despite the strains of Superstorm Sandy,” Comptroller Liu said. “Unemployment edged downward and the City’s workforce saw healthy wage growth for the first time since the financial crisis. But the City must remain vigilant against growing budget gaps, the continuing cost impact of Sandy recovery, and potential risks from the dysfunction in Washington as exemplified by the recent shutdown.”
The CAFR shows the General Fund had revenues and other financial sources in Fiscal Year 2013 totaling $71.029 billion and expenditures and other financing uses of $71.024 billion, resulting in a surplus of $5 million.
It also shows that as of June 2013, $1.7 billion had been spent on the Sandy recovery, and the City continues to incur costs associated with the storm.
Among other important economic findings, the report contains updates on New York City’s finances, including:
· The City Pension Funds paid benefits totaling $12.0 billion during FY 2013. As of June 30, 2013, the City pension funds had an aggregate value of $137.4 billion, an increase of $15.3 billion from the June 30, 2012 value of $122.1 billion.
· The Comptroller’s Bureau of Audit issued 84 audits and special reports in FY 2013 identifying approximately $184 million in actual and potential revenues and savings. Reviews of claims filed against the City identified another $15.7 million in cost avoidance.
· In FY 2013, the City paid $562.4 million in settlements and judgments (tort and non-tort).
· The City and its blended component units issued $10.15 billion in long-term bonds in FY 2013 to finance the City’s capital needs and refinance outstanding bonds for interest savings. In addition, the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority issued $2.30 billion in long-term bonds for capital and refinancing purposes. As of June 30, 2013, the City’s outstanding General Obligation debt totaled $41.59 billion, consisting of $33.93 billion in fixed rate bonds and $7.66 billion in variable rate bonds.
· From June 2012 through June 2013, the City added more than 76,400 private-sector jobs. Although the number of new jobs created was lower than that of the previous 12 months, the gain still represented a solid 2.3 percent increase in the City’s jobs base. Overall, the city’s economy grew by an estimated 1.8 percent in FY 2013, slightly faster than the 1.3 percent recorded in the previous fiscal year.
· The City’s unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent in FY 2013 from 9.3 percent the previous year. The average weekly earnings of private-sector workers in New York City increased by 4.9 percent in the fiscal year, twice the national increase. The combination of rising employment and higher earnings produced an estimated 6.3 percent increase in year-over-year income tax withholdings.
The full CAFR report is posted here: http://on.nyc.gov/Hu1DRZ