A group contracted to provide outreach in the New York City subway system has failed to reduce homelessness, according to a new audit by the state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The audit is the third time in less than a year that DiNapoli criticized Bowery Residents’ Committee for its lackluster performance doing homeless outreach at a time of increased focus on street homelessness.

Since 2014, the city and MTA have jointly funded the BRC to engage homeless people in subways and try to place them in shelters. Even though the contract required the group to reduce the number of homeless observed in the subway system from 1,841 to 626 between 2014 and 2017, the audit found that the number went up.

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According to the last count, 2,178 people were living in the subway system. BRC also exaggerated the number of people they placed in shelters and didn’t show up in stations where a lot of homeless people congregate, the comptroller’s office said. 

In an interview with Gothamnist/WNYC, DiNapoli said the MTA and the city’s Department of Homeless Services have not properly supervised the nonprofit provider.

“They really need to step up their game as far as oversight and implementation of the contract, make sure that the outreach teams are showing up,” he said.

A spokesman for DHS, Isaac McGinn, said the agency takes the comptroller’s report “seriously” and that BRC was placed on a “corrective action plan” last year, which aims to ensure the group is reaching the greatest number of unsheltered New Yorkers in need on the subway system.

“We intend to hold all providers accountable to high standards and remain committed to improving oversight through an enhanced quality assurance program that includes strengthened performance metrics,” McGinn said in a statement.

The city accepted all of the comptroller’s recommendations except for one. While DiNapoli recommended that the city and MTA establish targets for reducing the homeless population in the subway, officials said structural economic problems are at play that are beyond BRC’s control. Some homeless people also prefer to stay in the subway system, due to having previous experiences that make them distrustful of others or finding shelters too restrictive.

Muzzy Rosenblatt, BRC’s CEO and president, said in an email that the report failed to appreciate his organization’s effort and achievement. But he added, “We recognize there are opportunities to improve and have already begun to work with our government partners to implement constructive changes.”

The amount of money BRC is receiving for its work is unclear. The comptroller’s office said the total value of the contract is $36 million, but DHS previously said it’s $64 million over 6 years. 

In the past, BRC has not competed against other providers for the contract, and its renewal hasn’t been dependent on performance metrics.

The contract expires at the end of the year.

Mirela Iverac is a reporter for WNYC, where she covers poverty and homelessness. You can follow her on Twitter at @mirelaiverac.