News Mayor de Blasio to cut off city’s use of nonprofit

Eight months ago the city signed a $16 million contract with a nonprofit that had been cited repeatedly for housing the homeless in decrepit apartments and hotels.

On Thursday Mayor de Blasio pulled the plug, announcing that in the coming months, the city will phase out its use of Bushwick Economic Development Corp.

In Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, BEDCO houses hundreds of homeless families and single adults in 11 hotels and 33 so-called “cluster sites,” private apartment buildings notorious for scandalous conditions.

De Blasio had criticized both programs before he was elected mayor but was forced to expand the use of both as the shelter census rose from 53,000 in January 2014 to 60,000 this week.

The city will move the all the homeless individuals now living in these hotels and apartments to either permanent housing or other hotels and cluster sites not run by BEDCO.

BEDCO Director Frank Boswell did not return calls.

The nonprofit, which receives tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year from the city and state, was one of several groups DHS paid to house the homeless.

In March 2015, the city Department of Investigation cited several of those groups — including BEDCO — for routinely placing families in squalid apartments with dozens of housing, building and health code violations.

At one BEDCO building on E. 174th St. in the Bronx, DOI found a large dead rat that had been lying in the lobby for days.

At the time, DOI criticized the city’s habit of repeatedly retaining the groups on an “emergency” basis without actual contracts. That gave the city little leverage to demand the groups remedy horrendous living conditions.

BEDCO also placed families in the Bronx building where two infants were scalded to death in December due to a faulty radiator. A tenant at the building told the News she’d reported a busted radiator in her apartment to BEDCO, but no one came to fix it.

The BEDCO announcement came three days after the mayor was criticized for saying nothing about the homeless crisis during his rambling 65-minute State of the City address Monday night.

The decision to cut off BEDCO is part of a de Blasio promise made last year to eliminate all “cluster sites” by 2018. He’s also vowed to end the use of hotels, but without a specific deadline.

The cut-off also represents an abrupt about-face. Just eight months ago, DHS renewed two BEDCO contracts, including a $2.2 million contract that was to continue through June and a $16.8 million contract that was to continue into 2020.

The nonprofit currently has 12 contracts with DHS, most of which expire this year. It also manages eight traditional shelters, and the city says it will review those contracts as well within the next 90 days.

On Thursday Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said the city is taking multiple steps to make sure homeless families get safe and healthy lodging.

Last year, Banks said, the city eliminated 10,000 code violations in shelters and “cluster sites,” and will stop using these apartments and hotels as soon as possible.

“As part of the 90-day review of homeless services, we are aggressively reforming decades-old policies and practices, including ending relationships with providers who have had a history of serious shelter conditions or other issues,” Banks said.