NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A scathing new report claims a homeless non-profit is doing next to nothing to actually help the homeless.
The MTA has spent millions for this group to work at Penn Station, Grand Central, and other train stations.
Many commuters will tell you it’s not hard to find panhandlers and the homeless at these major transit hubs.
“It’s a serious problem,” one commuter said.
“All of them. Panhandlers, beggars, you know, food, money, cigarettes is a big thing,” Mikki Mosslih of Middle Village added.
A new report finds a big reason the problem is so bad is because workers at the non-profit who are supposed to be helping the homeless throughout the MTA system are literally not doing their jobs.
The audit from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found the Bowery Residents Committee (BRC) is “failing to assist homeless people as much as possible… and the MTA is not adequately monitoring BRC’s provision of outreach services.”
The cash-strapped MTA – which routinely raises fares on riders – has spent more than $14 million on contracts with BRC since March of 2010, the report discovered.
Auditors found that instead of outreach, workers spent the bulk of their time in their offices – which at times were closed when they should have been open.
“Have you asked them to help you find shelter?” CBS2’s Andrea Grymes asked a homeless New Yorker.
“More than once. (They said) we’ll get back to you or we’ll let you know or that kind of stuff,” John Eedward Sands said.
Sands claims BRC workers have given him food plenty of times, but never a bed.
DiNapoli had several recommendations for the MTA – including monitoring outreach workers to ensure they’re providing a sufficient level of homeless outreach.
On Monday, the day before the audit was released, MTA board member Lawrence Schwartz spoke generally about the homelessness and panhandling he sees daily.
“The problem is not going away, and it’s only getting worse, and we need to address it now, and it needs to be addressed, if necessary, in the budget,” Schwartz declared.
As for BRC, the office at Penn Station was initially closed when CBS2 went by Tuesday afternoon. After a few minutes, a worker came back.
“The state is claiming BRC is not doing their jobs at Penn Station,” Grymes told the BRC worker.
“Like I said, you have any information you want, go to BRC.org,” the worker replied.
Grymes asked a BRC spokesperson for an on-camera interview, but she told CBS2 to contact the MTA for comment.
Grymes followed up, asking BRC if anyone was suspended or fired after this audit. BRC did not reply.
An MTA spokesperson says they’re taking aggressive action to address the troubling performance issues brought to light in the report and they’ve already implemented the recommendations in the comptroller’s audit.