On Friday December 16, 2016, the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School hosted the 139th CityLaw Breakfast. The event speaker was New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.
Commissioner Banks was welcomed by Anthony Crowell, President and Dean of New York Law School and introduced by Ross Sandler, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for New York City Law. He discussed his long career surrounding homelessness in NYC. The Commissioner mused on his move from the Legal Aid Society where he sued the Department of Social Services for 30 years to running that Department.
The Human Resources Administration serves three million of the City’s most vulnerable persons said the Commisioner. He discussed the reforms he has brought to the Department since being appointed in April 2014. He explained that “one-size-fits-all approaches don’t work in social services,” and noted that the City did not reach its homeless crisis overnight.
The Commissioner however expressed optimism for where the City was heading with its social services reforms. He iterated that “My focus is on making sure New Yorkers have a place to stay every night.” He pointed that funding for legal aid in the City to prevent illegal evictions has increased ten-fold. HRA was now providing additional rental assistance to prevent evictions and had doubled the number of outreach workers on the streets. The Commissioner stated, “The Mayor owns the problem, I own the problem.”
Commissioner Banks finished by taking questions from the capacity crowd.
To watch live, click here or click the video below.