New York City’s embattled social services commissioner is resigning after facing criticism over his handling of the city’s homelessness crisis, according to a person who spoke to the commissioner about his decision.
The commissioner, Gary Jenkins, has overseen the city’s response to one of the greatest challenges facing New York City as the homeless population hit a record last year.
Mayor Eric Adams has defended Mr. Jenkins and said last August, after it was revealed that Mr. Jenkins was being investigated by the city’s Department of Investigation, that he had the “utmost confidence” in him. But the administration has continued to struggle to respond to an increase in homelessness, both among city residents and from an influx of migrants from the Southern border.
The city’s homeless population has risen this month to more than 77,000 people, by far the most ever recorded and an increase of over 70 percent since May.
Mr. Jenkins was investigated last year over his handling of cases where homeless families had to stay overnight at a Bronx intake office while applying for shelter. The overnight stays violated the city’s right-to-shelter law and came as officials scrambled to cope with a surge in migrants entering the system.
The inquiry involves allegations that Mr. Jenkins sought to hide that people had slept at the intake office, according to a former top official with the city Department of Homeless Services and another person with knowledge of the investigation.
In August, a spokeswoman for the Social Services Department who was fired, Julia Savel, was interviewed for three hours about the matter by officials from the Investigation Department.
Mr. Jenkins has also received criticism for partying on a yacht as the crisis unfolded in August. He has kept a relatively low profile since then, often missing events like the announcement of a plan to house migrants in giant tents.
Mr. Jenkins was appointed by Mr. Adams in January 2022 as the commissioner of the Department of Social Services, which oversees both the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services.