Categories: New York City
Mayor de Blasio appoints longtime advocate for top post
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the final social service agency appointment of his administration.
On February 28, the mayor named Steven Banks the new Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration (HRA). One of the city’s most prominent public interest lawyers, Mr. Banks has served as Attorney-in-Chief at the Legal Aid Society since 2004 and has been with the organization since 1981.
“I always dreamed that Steve would work inside government,” says Laura Jervis, Executive Director of the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing. “His values, his passion for justice, his understanding of the plight of under-resourced New Yorkers combined with his fine legal mind will advance the transformation of our City into a place where equity is enjoyed by all. Who knew that dreams really can come true?”
Mr. Banks managed a staff of 1,900 at Legal Aid and was responsible for all aspects of the organization’s criminal, juvenile rights and civil programs. He is credited with helping reach a landmark settlement with the city in 2008 over its treatment of the homeless, which resulted in the establishment of a permanent enforceable right to shelter for homeless families in New York City.
“Given the primary responsibility of all levels of government to serve the poorest, the youngest and eldest and most disadvantaged, we can imagine no wiser and more experienced public servant for the City of New York than Steve Banks,” says Broadway Housing Communities Executive Director Ellen Baxter.
While HRA is an enormous agency that primarily oversees public benefits for low-income New Yorkers, it also has two departments that play a critical role in providing supportive housing to homeless and at-risk individuals and families: the agency’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) oversees nearly 5,000 units of supportive housing for people living with HIV/AIDS and its Customized Assistance Services unit manages the citywide assessment process for NY/NY I, II and III housing placements.
His appointment adds to an already progressive and forward-thinking administration, which includes, most recently, terrific picks to lead the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA). For information on previously announced appointments, see here and here.
Photo credit: Susan Watts/New York Daily News