Homelessness

NYC Housing Specialists Asked Homeless Clients for Loans to Pay Rent, City Says

The city Conflicts of Interest Board said two housing specialists at a Manhattan shelter were assigned to help residents find housing - but instead sought loans to pay their own bills

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Two New York City housing specialists assigned to a Manhattan homeless shelter resigned after asking residents of the shelter to lend them money so the city employees could pay their own rent, according to a Conflicts of Interest Board ruling released Tuesday.

Jacqueline Brown-Fernandez was an employee of the city's Department of Homeless Services who was assigned to the Catherine Street Shelter in Manhattan in the spring and summer of 2019.

In her role, she was expected to help a resident of the shelter find permanent housing.

But as Brown-Fernandez admitted in papers made public by the board, "(in) October 2019 I asked the Client to loan me $500 so that I could pay my rent." The shelter resident loaned her the money, which she repaid the next month.

A few weeks later, Brown-Fernandez admitted, she asked for another loan, of $130, to pay her phone bill. The client lent her the money, which she later repaid.

She agreed to resign from the department as punishment for violating City Charter rules on public servants using their position for personal gain.

A second city housing specialist at the same shelter, Marilyn Olan, also resigned in a settlement with the conflicts board after admitting that she twice asked a resident of the shelter for a total of $1,900 in loans, for rent and other bills. In that case, the resident declined both requests.

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