New York City’s social services commissioner is being investigated over his handling of cases where homeless families had to stay overnight at a Bronx intake office while applying for shelter last month, two people with knowledge of the inquiry said on Monday.
The overnight stays at the office violated the city’s right-to-shelter law and came as officials scrambled to cope with a surge in families entering the system, many of them newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers from the nation’s southern border.
The inquiry, which is being conducted by the city’s Department of Investigation, involves allegations that the social services commissioner, Gary Jenkins, sought to conceal 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.
A spokeswoman for the Social Services Department who was fired on Aug. 5, Julia Savel, was interviewed for three hours on Monday by officials from the Investigation Department, one of the people said. A reporter for The New York Times saw Ms. Savel leaving the office building on Maiden Lane in the financial district where the Investigation Department is based.
NBC New York reported last week that Ms. Save was terminated after she challenged Mr. Jenkins’ handling of the overnight stays. NBC New York also reported on the investigation involving Mr. Jenkins.
On July 20, as word of the violation spread, Ms. Savel, in a message quoted by NBC New York, texted a colleague who works in the mayor’s press office that Mr. Jenkins “was trying to not tell City Hall that we broke the law.”
She also wrote: “I just can’t work for a commish who is ok with covering up something illegal.”
On Friday, Major Eric Adams defended Mr. Jenkins and said Ms.