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Critics ask why departing NYC homelessness commissioner is keeping $219,773 salary

Gilbert Taylor, the departing commissioner of Homeless Services,

Gilbert Taylor, the departing commissioner of Homeless Services, in 2013. Credit: Charles Eckert

A good-government group, two elected officials and a shelter resident questioned Wednesday why the embattled chief of the de Blasio administration’s homelessness agency will keep his nearly $220,000 salary after leaving his post.

Gilbert Taylor, who on Tuesday abruptly announced his resignation amid criticism of his agency’s performance and record-high homelessness, is being kept on the payroll to advise a shake-up ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio of how the city deals with people in shelters and on the streets.

“That’s outrageous. The guy did a terrible job. That’s why he’s gone. We’re still going to pay him?” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), a Taylor critic who called for his resignation earlier this year.

Taylor’s annual salary is $219,773, almost as much as de Blasio’s $225,000 annual pay. Taylor said in his resignation letter he’s “decided to leave to pursue new professional opportunities.”

De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton said of Taylor, “He is going to work full time on the review until he decides on his new position.”

Excluding the more than 3,000 people who live on the street, the shelter population peaked this year at about 59,000, an increase from about 53,000 when de Blasio was sworn in nearly two years ago. It is now more than 57,000, a mayoral spokeswoman said.

Dick Dadey of the good-government group Citizens Union said “it is odd to see someone who is going from running a major agency to be an adviser at the same salary.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday at City Hall, Taylor’s interim replacement, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steve Banks, said Taylor would be valuable in determining how to restructure homelessness services.

“I look forward to his advice and assistance based upon his experience,” Banks said. He’s tasked with reviewing procedures for contracting with service providers and other bureaucratic matters.

City Council member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), a Taylor critic, said pay is a mayoral prerogative, but “. . . If you’re no longer managing the same level of responsibility, running an agency, why are you earning the same salary?”

Arvernetta Henry, 66, a former school teacher who lives in a Bronx homeless shelter and works with the group Picture the Homeless, was disappointed that Taylor’s pay will stay the same.

“Oh, no,” she said. “If you can’t do your job, why should you be paid?”

Banks said bureaucratic changes would help show “progress” in preventing homelessness and living on the streets. “It’s going to take some time to address it,” Banks said. “Clearly, we have to do more.”

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