Since July 1, the city has paid CORE nearly $3 million to operate five shelters that provide two-year stays for young people experiencing homelessness. The troubled nonprofit operates 99 beds for teens and young adults in Brooklyn and The Bronx.

Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office.

Mayor de Blasio in 2018, at a hearing for legislation to improve shelter access for runaway and homeless youth.

New York City’s youth development agency is terminating its shelter contracts with the nonprofit CORE Services following reports of exorbitant compensation and lucrative self-dealing by the group’s CEO, officials said Thursday.

The move to cut CORE out of the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) shelter system comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that the city would no longer do business with the organization. Advocates say the decision poses several challenges specific to housing homeless teens and young adults, including a relatively small stable of reliable youth shelter providers and a state law requiring providers to receive location-based certification.

“Without an appropriate and timely plan to reallocate their 99 DYCD-contracted youth shelter beds, the youth that are currently under their care will suffer,” said Coalition for Homeless Youth Executive Director Jamie Powlovich. “We hope that the needs of the youth will be prioritized during this unfortunate situation.”

CORE is not a member of the Coalition for Homeless Youth, an advocacy organization, but the embattled nonprofit has expanded its role in the youth shelter sector in recent years.

Since July 1, DYCD has paid CORE nearly $3 million to operate five Transitional Independent Living (TIL) shelters that provide two-year stays for young people experiencing homelessness, known as runaway and homeless youth, or RHY. CORE operates 84 beds for teens and young adults between 16 and 20 across four of its shelters, one in Brooklyn and three in The Bronx.

The organization also operates another Brooklyn shelter with 15 TIL beds for young adults aged 21 to 25—a quarter of the 60 beds for older RHY that the city established last year.

The city counted 6,753 runaway and homeless youth last year—a number that advocates consider a significant undercount—but youth-specific shelter, housing and services can be hard to come by. New York City agencies have worked with nonprofits to expand the youth shelter network under de Blasio, but many young adults are still forced to enter the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) system or find other unstable housing.

Recent investigations by the New York Times and New York Post revealed that CORE CEO Jack Brown earns $1 million a year running the homeless service provider while using city funds to pay for-profit vendors that he owns. In the wake of those reports, de Blasio and DHS said they would no longer contract with CORE, which has received $68.1 million from the city during the current fiscal year, mostly from DHS shelters for single adults and families with children.

“We’re talking about people in need, folks who are homeless, and this organization took advantage of those people, and they will no longer be doing business with the City of New York,” de Blasio said at a Nov. 23 press conference.

Advocates for homeless young people questioned whether that directive also applied to CORE’s five DYCD shelters.

A spokesperson for de Blasio said Thursday that it did. “The mayor meant what he said—the city is ending all contracts with CORE Services,” said spokesperson Laura Feyer.

DYCD and the mayor’s office would not elaborate on how or when they will end CORE’s youth shelter contracts. CORE took in $5 million from DYCD in fiscal year 2021, a fraction of the roughly $103 million the organization got from DHS during that time period, according to the city comptroller’s contract database.

DYCD spokesperson Mark Zustovich declined to answer specific questions about the CORE contracts and instead referred to a statement he provided City Limits.

“In light of the city’s recent challenges with the organization, DYCD is reviewing its contracts and determining how to best maintain services for young people in need,” his statement read.

DHS has told CORE that they plan to end all of the organization’s contracts to provide services at shelters or commercial hotels by March 31, 2022, according to a letter shared with City Limits.

But transferring CORE’s five DYCD shelters to another organization may take longer to accomplish. RHY shelter providers must receive site-specific certification from the state’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) in order to serve young people, making it harder for one nonprofit to quickly step in and run a shelter if another loses or withdraws from its agreement with DYCD.

OCFS spokesperson Jeannine Smith said the agency would not “speculate” on the future of the agreements between DYCD and CORE but provided a statement saying they would assist with the search for another provider.

“If the city chooses to re-assign the contract to a different provider, OCFS would work closely with the provider and DYCD to support a seamless transition and to ensure continued and consistent care of the youth,” she said.

When contacted for this story, CORE officials said they had not spoken with DYCD about the contract review and did not know that the city planned to terminate their agreements. A CORE spokesperson said the organization would comply with any review.

“CORE remains committed to our long-standing and successful partnership with DYCD,” the spokesperson said. “We intend to continue providing the highest level of care to our resilient runaway and homeless youth and young adults, as they progress towards independence.”

The organization also maintains that they were the ones who decided to pull out of the DHS shelter contracts with the city following the reports by the Times and Post, stating in a Nov. 19 letter to DHS administrators that they were owed more than $30 million and wanted out.

DHS fired back at CORE in a Nov. 22 letter saying the organization failed to meet steps outlined in a corrective action plan, including requirements to refund $2.3 million in “excessive executive compensation” and fold Brown’s for-profit vendors into the non-profit structure.

“Rather than agree to these terms, CORE decided to abandon its contractual obligations,” DHS Attorney Martha Calhoun wrote to the organization.

9 thoughts on “NYC Cutting CORE From Youth Homeless Shelters In Wake of CEO Self-Dealing Accusations

  1. I’ve worked for CORE for the past 4 years and have had the opportunity to meet and speak with Mr. Brown on a few occasions during my time here. Any time I have e ever gone to him with any issue he has always been attentive. I’ve worked in 3 different agencies contracted by DHS and CORE by far had the best conditions for the staff members and clients .It’s the only company I’ve worked for that hired predominantly minorities and provided a higher pay by at least $3000-$5000 than other providers to its case managers, housing specialists Program Directors and other social service staff. They also did their best to provide a family environment for the staff and clients through facility events like poetry , barbecues. Thanksgiving and Chrisstamas dinners etc. No one highlights these things in any of these articles. The press is having a ball dragging this man’s name and taking him down but in reality they are causing 1100 minority people in this city to be unemployed and thousands of clients to have to move to providers that will not give them the quality of care they deserve. I personally am heartbroken for my coworkers and my clients because I’ve seen how this goes from the inside and outside. It’s a very unfortunate situation. Mr. Brown with all he accomplished as a black man in NYC for his people does not deserve that. So many things in this article are told from the perspective of those out to destroy.

    • Mr. Brown is a greedy crook and he is only getting what he deserved. He treated the staff horrible during the beginning of the pandemic. Changed staff schedules 3-4 times. Clients died and he tried to cover it up. He also gave hazard pay only to ProCore and the front line staff didn’t receive anything. The holiday party was only a distraction to not give holiday bonuses which I only received the first year at Core.

      • Tasha Williams, Exactly. We must also hold DHS accountable and elected official we vote in. Where is the oversight? Why continue to grant Jack Brown millions, knowing his crooked history?

  2. Yeah its correct,,, he’s a crook ,,,leaving everybody stranded for Christmas,,, I didn’t trust him from the very beginning,,, when I saw him,,, 3 years ago,,, how could anybody say he’s for his people,,, no he’s for his very own wallet,,, and it’s people from that office helped him be a scam artist,,,,now he trying to,,say DHS,, had something to do with us losing our job,,, That’s a straight out lie,,, DHS HELPED GOT RID OF THE BAD NAME FASTER,,, that’s all,,, I don’t blame,, them at all,,, not one bit,,, I blame him,,, the city gave him a chance to correct everything,,, after the fact,,, they found out he was cheating,,, if he had a real love,,, for his people,,, he would have paid the fine,,, and corrected everybody salary,,, and kept going,,if he had real love for his people,,they had a saying at core ,,, CORE STRONG,,, core strong ,,My a$$$., it’s true,,, about that Christmas party,,,that I did not go to,,, and the essentials workers check,,, we were robbed,,, he helped people,,, to cover up what he was doing,,, he’s been doing this,,, they just really paid it attention,,, and this time,,, they did something about it,,, so who can in their right mind,,, say he’s for us,,, that’s a total lie,,, managers, supervisors,,, that did all the hard work,,, he lied to them,,, and they also lost their jobs,,, so you tell me he’s good?? I got nothing else to say,, He’s wrong ,,, wrong, wrong,,, some of will have it hard,,,finding a good job,, with Procore name attached to us,,, we will be treated in a certain way,, believe that,,, when they recognize where we came from,,, how could he have done this,,, ? Well the love of money is the root of all evil,,, in this case,,,

  3. Core got what it deserved! I only worked there for year and couldn’t believe what was going on! Staff at the main office had their noses in the air and also slept with each other! Program staff DSS and CMS half of them don’t know what do and also very cocky! Staff sleeping with clients! Smfh Karma is something else

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