NYC Homeless Services to lose 1,000 workers, despite budget

Tom Boland (
Sun, 24 May 1998 11:29:23 -0700 (PDT)
New York Post    EDITORIAL


Why is City Hall trying to get rid of 1,650 municipal jobs
at a time when New York is running a budget surplus?
Because the jobs are unnecessary. The city has found
better ways to deliver some services formerly provided by
government workers.

At issue are about 1,000 jobs in the Department of
Homeless Services that have been made redundant by a
four-year-old policy of contracting with privately operated
social-services providers to do work that municipal
agencies couldn't do for decades.

Another 650 or so jobs are about to be eliminated from the
Health & Hospitals Corp. because changes in New
York's health-care delivery system - particularly, the
assignment of Medicaid clients to managed care - have
rendered the hospitals vastly overstaffed.

Nobody likes to see somebody else be laidoff. On the
other hand, New York City's pri-vate sector underwent a
wrenching down-siz-ing earlier in the decade - and there's
no reason the public sector should be immune from the
managerial revolution of the 1990s.

More to the point, both Homeless Services and HHC are
demonstrably better serving their respective clients these
days. The homeless shelters - hellholes when the city ran
them - are much improved. And a 25-percent drop in
patient census at the hospitals reflects the fact that
HHC-operated clinics, and private doctors, are providing
care that the poor once went to emergency rooms to

Government doesn't exist principally to provide jobs - or,
it shouldn't. City agencies need more reason to exist than
that. If they become efficient and effective, they will be
worth saving. Homeless Services has certainly
demonstrated that a well-managed agency can be lean and
productive. It comes up for reauthorization at the end of
June. It has proved its worth.


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