You should know that I received a copy of a letter that an organization called Aguila sent to Mayor de Blaiso.
Aguila is one of many agencies created by our Puerto Rican and hispanics pioneers in Bronx, and that in the last few years has been confronting a sophisticated elimination.
Aguila and other hispanics organizations in Bronx have been systematically transferred to other organizations from outside of the borough (mostly from Brooklyn) with apparent political direct connection to City Hall.
Please read the Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio as follows.
March 28, 2019
Honorable Bill de Blasio Mayor,
City of New York City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
Aguila, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Latino based organization based in the South Bronx that partners with the City of New York to provide housing and support services. Since our founding in 1998, we have helped thousands of families thrive while employing hundreds of people from the local community. Today, we remain committed to our mission and to the administration’s goals outlined in Turning the Tide on Homelessness — a leading, comprehensive plan to address homelessness in our City. Despite our good work, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has worked to systematically dismantle Aguila.
Aguila has made repeated attempts to meet and work with DHS leadership to improve conditions, address concerns and create a productive working dialogue. However, our phone calls, emails and overtures are consistently disregarded. Therefore, we write this letter to bring your attention to several matters that require further inquiry:
In 2018, MOCS/DHS requested that Aguila signed an affidavit stating that a relationship with the Podolsky’s did not exist. Under duress, I was coerced into signing this affidavit even though the City knows full well that Aguila manages multiple buildings owned by the Podolsky’s.
Aguila has been cited for a lack of security yet Aguila is consistently denied security personnel increases. Most recently DHS rejected a security wage increase for Aguila but then proceeded to approve similar requests from our peer providers. Aguila has been cited most recently, for clients’ biopsychosocial not completed within 30 days of intake (2016), yet CCC (social workers) initiative was not rolled out until 2017.
For over 10 years, Aguila operated the Briggs Family Residence. Subsequent to an RFP process, the Residence was assigned to another provider, Housing Bridges. The Mayor’s Office of Contracts informed Aguila staff that despite having the highest score, determined by the formal and established RFP process, the contract was being awarded to another provider. In short, the City did not like the result of the RFP process and therefore changed the rules.
Unlike other organizations, Aguila’s leadership is composed of Latina and Latino’s from the community that were not formerly members of the DHS administration, the Mayor’s transition team or are otherwise politically influential. Unfortunately, a clear trend has evolved whereby those with the proper relationships are awarded programs that have to date been operated by Aguila. In sum, a systematic dismantling and reassignment of Aguila is underway.
As DHS’ efforts to dismantle Aguila have progressed, Aguila’s staff have taken notice, as many of their coworkers are no longer employed. The uncertainty of not having a job has created a pervasive fear within the organization, leading to staff turnover, low morale, loss of employment of over 125 employees, plus over 400 plus vendors’ employees from various sectors, 9security, maintenance, extermination, etc., and ultimately a dismantling of Aguila’s internal infrastructure — all a result of DHS actions.
In furtherance of the City’s established goals in Turning the Tide on Homelessness to create additional housing, Aguila has presented multiple new shelter locations to DHS for consideration. Each time the location has been rejected with limited to no explanation despite meeting the City’s stated criteria for new facilities.
As one of three Latina women serving as Chief Executive Officer of a non-profit organization in the Bronx, I’ve developed a reputation as a steadfast advocate for the proper administration of public funds — it is our moral and fiduciary responsibility. In continuation of this commitment, Aguila requests that City Hall look into the above matters as well as the decision-making process and actions of the Department of Homeless Services and the Mayor’s Office of Contracts. In addition, until a full and comprehensive review is completed, DHS’ dismantling of Aguila should not be permitted to continue. These matters, and DHS’ motivations, must be fully understood.
Thank you for the consideration of this request.
Jenny Rivera Lozada, CEO
Hermínia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services
Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez Special Advisor
Steven Bank, Department of Social Services Commissioner
Marco A. Carrion, Commissioner of New York City’s Community Affairs
Jose Serrano, United State Congressman, 32nd District
Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President
Luis Sepulveda, NYS Senator
Gustavo Rivera, NYS Senator
Marcos Crespo, Assemblyman
Michael Blake, Assemblyman
Karina Reyes, Assemblywoman
Carmen dela Rosa, Assemblywoman
Rubén Díaz, Sr., Councilman
Rafael Salamanca, Councilman
Ritchie Torres, Councilman