The Big Apple’s embattled social services chief, Gary Jenkins, will be out of the office for nearly two weeks as the city’s shelter system strains under the weight of thousands of migrants arriving from the southern border.
The revelation that Jenkins is on vacation comes just hours after The Post published an exclusive report that detailed how the city is blowing its own deadlines to set up needed shelter and services for the recent arrivals.
When contacted Monday, Jenkins told a Post reporter to call City Hall for comment and then promptly hung up the phone.
“I will be out of the office on Friday, August 26, 2022, and will return on Tuesday, September 6, 2022,” Jenkins’ automated out-of-office email reply reads. “I will check emails periodically.”
He added in the note that “[i]f you have an urgent matter that needs to be addressed before then” those writing him should contact two aides.
Jenkins serves as the commissioner of the Department of Social Services, which controls the two agencies at the heart of the city’s response — the Department of Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration.
The latest city statistics show that at least 7,000 migrants have arrived in the five boroughs in recent months.
Currently, they are being placed into existing shelters or hotels the city already contracts with to provide beds on an emergency basis, facilities that are sometimes not equipped with the staff, and other resources needed to help the recent arrivals.
“He’s still picking up the phone, he’s still accessible, we just had a conversation,” said Councilwoman Diana Ayala, who chairs the general welfare committee, which oversees Jenkins’ agency. “Every day in New York City is an emergency. He’s entitled to a few days to recover and come back stronger.”
Still, veteran political operatives and past officials said that Jenkins’ absence will further fuel the perception that the Adams administration is struggling to get its arms around the crisis as the wave of recent arrivals adds new strain to an already overcrowded shelter system.
“It’s not the best look for the Social Services Commissioner to be out of town during this crisis,” said longtime strategist Hank Sheinkopf.
“Having someone to keep the irons hot is so important,” added a veteran of the city’s social services agencies. “Public servants could use a push.”
City Hall and DSS did not immediately return requests for comment.