Former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, now head of supportive housing nonprofit Women in Need, was on hand to announce the results of the de Blasio administration’s review of the city’s homeless shelters—and to shower her longtime rival’s team with praise.
Ms. Quinn and WIN were among several subsidized shelter operators joining Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio to announce the repair of 12,000 code violations across the sprawling system since December. Mr. Banks took over from resigning Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor late last year, and vowed an overhaul of the long-decrepit network of shelters.
“I would like to both introduce and offer our extreme appreciation to Speaker Christine—to former Speaker Christine Quinn, and CEO of WIN,” Dr. Palacio said, noting that WIN is the largest provider of temporary housing to women and children, hosting some 4,700 people a night. “Thank you so much for the incredible job that you are doing.”
Ms. Quinn—who represented Greenwich Village and Chelsea—defeated Mr. de Blasio, then a councilman from Park Slope, to become Council speaker in 2006. Seven years later, she became front-runner in the Democratic primary for mayor, only to lose to Mr. de Blasio amid a wave of negative ads and publicity.
Yet there wasn’t the faintest shadow of those old tensions at the press conference at City Hall. Ms. Quinn thanked Mr. Banks and Ms. Palacio for assigning Parks Department employees to help paint WIN shelters, which she said allowed her organization to address other issues.
“That’s something we’d never seen before, you know: a commissioner and deputy mayor saying ‘where are there city employees who might have a few extra hours in their day that aren’t occupied with work relevant to that agency,'” she said.
She also thanked Mr. Banks for agreeing to get the laundry and garbage rooms of WIN’s shelter in the East New York section of Brooklyn tiled, so as to make them impervious to vermin.
“This saved us money, makes rooms that are easy to clean, makes rooms for us that are easier to keep rodent and vermin free, and rooms that will be better, cleaner, brighter and safer for our families,” she said, apparently getting him to commit to financing the same work at other WIN facilities. “And now that we’re going to do it at all of our other shelters—he may or may not have committed to that, but now that I’ve said it on the record and he can’t oppose it—it’ll all get done a lot quicker too for these wonderful children and families.”
Ms. Banks told her “absolutely,” and said the approach was indicative of a new strategy of tackling underlying problems instead of offering only quick fixes.
“The tiling situation I think is actually indicative of the new approach that we take with things,” he said. “When we peeled back the onion and looked at what was causing the problem, it was because of access the vermin were gaining to the location, to the facility. So we came up with a way to block access.”
But the same report that Mr. de Blasio’s administration released today found 6,486 violations still outstanding at shelters across the city, which the mayor’s office promised to rectify.