Carey Roberts
October 22, 2009
Well-heeled abuse shelter implicated in NYC housing scam
By Carey Roberts

It was another shocking case of domestic violence: Chevelle Richardson and daughter Chandera were both hapless victims at the hands of their abusers. Shanelle Reed, Barbara Goss, Neri Garces, and Deshanna Graham likewise had been swept into the vortex of our nation's epidemic of partner abuse.

If any should doubt their claim, each of the women brandished a police report, order of protection, and a letter from Safe Horizon, a New York City domestic violence agency that bills itself as the "nation's leading victim assistance organization" and operates eight shelters around the city with a total of 582 beds.

Problem is, it was all a scam designed to move the women to the front of the line in order to qualify for federally-subsidized Section 8 rent subsidies. As the New York Times deadpanned Wednesday, "it was a particularly imaginative scheme." So when a Housing Authority manager noticed the women's documents were suspiciously similar, an investigation revealed the papers had been forged. The police were called and the scofflaws arrested.

For now, we don't know whether Safe Horizon masterminded the scam or simply played along with the gig by refusing to ask any hard questions. (One of the favorite mantras of the domestic violence industry is "always believe the victim" — unless the victim is a man, of course.) Either way, the case smells worse than 3-day-old carp piled on the South Street Seaport.

Like other abuse shelters, Safe Horizon makes a grand show of being perpetually hard-up for cash. Its website (www.safehorizon.org) pleads with prospective helpers, "we could not do the work that we do without help from our volunteers."

But how many would-be donors know Safe Horizon resembles Citicorp or Bank of America, far more than a grass-roots organization dedicated to providing succor to persons down on their luck?

How many realize Safe Horizon rakes in nearly $56 million every year? Do recession-hammered donors appreciate the agency suckles $18 million annually from the federal teat? And how many understand that the shelter's letter for the six "abused" women was bankrolled by a federal grant funded by the Violence Against Women Act that prohibits giving any legal assistance to a person falsely accused of partner abuse?

Safe Horizon's website assures us our contributions help provide 15,000 referrals to abuse shelters, serve over 11,500 victims of crime, and assist 3,000 men and women who are being stalked. That's very commendable.

But federal tax returns for Safe Horizon reveal skyscraper salaries that would put many bail-out bank executives to shame:

Scott Millstein, chief operating officer: $171,169
Beatrice Hanson, chief program officer: $157,776
Gordon Campbell, chief executive officer: $145,952
Michael Williams, general counsel: $141,093
George Johnson, vice president for human resources: $119,485
Nancy Arnow, senior vice president for programs: $116,038

To underwrite these generous salaries, Safe Horizon runs a well-greased corporate giving program. The agency shells out $217,192 to head rainmaker Maile Miske, plus an additional $155,354 to senior VP for development Katherine Wickham. Safe Horizon stages fund-raising events throughout the year, requiring $400,000 for an event planner and another $380,000 for "sponsorship proposals," whatever that means.

Which means Safe Horizons spends over a million smackeroos a year to bankroll its fund-raising operation.

And that's not all — there's so much loose change rolling around the operation that it needs to pay chief financial officer Jay Aronowitz 175,000 greenbacks a year to keep the books in order, plus another 130 grand to an outside auditing firm. How's that for going green?

Safe Horizons gives a brand new twist to the famous old expression, "Doing well by doing good."

© Carey Roberts

 

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Carey Roberts

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposé on Marxism and radical feminism... (more)

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