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Audit reveals lapses in state homeless services

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  • Staff Report 

An audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on August 15 underscores significant oversight issues within the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

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The agency, which is responsible for overseeing local departments of social services and homeless shelter providers, has reportedly been inefficient in ensuring that shelter entrants receive vital services, ranging from mental health care to drug addiction services.

The audit highlights a concerning pattern: 40% of needs assessments were either missing or delayed and 38% of Individual Living Plans (ILPs) — strategies developed to help shelter entrants regain independence — faced similar issues between January 2018 and October 2022.

The audit’s findings are alarming, with a sampled 70% of shelter clients failing to find permanent housing. For instance, of 145 sampled client cases, many lacked evidence of received support services as outlined in their ILPs.

DiNapoli has put forth several recommendations to OTDA, emphasizing a reevaluation of oversight processes, enhanced inspections, and a comprehensive data analysis to pinpoint barriers to securing permanent housing for clients. OTDA has acknowledged the findings and claims to have protocols in place to address these issues. Notably, the recurrence of these problems has nearly doubled since initially identified in 2016 and 2020 audits.

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