The Many Abuse Accusations Against a Housing Executive

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It’s Wednesday.

Weather: Sunny in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon. High in the mid-30s. A sprinkling of snow overnight.

Alternate-side parking: Suspended through Friday for snow removal, Lunar New Year and Lincoln’s Birthday.

Credit…Jason Cohen/Bronx Times

For years, accusations of sexual and financial misconduct swirled around Victor Rivera, who oversaw a network of homeless shelters in New York City. Still, Mr. Rivera continued to receive millions of dollars in funding from the city.

This week, The Times published an investigation uncovering the allegations made against Mr. Rivera and how he largely escaped the consequences.

[Victor Rivera gained power and profit as New York’s homeless crisis worsened.]

Here’s what you need to know:

The details

Deri women — including employees of Mr. Rivera’s organization and those who lived in its homeless shelters — accused him of sexual assault or harassment, my colleague Amy Julia Harris found. Several women tried to report Mr. Rivera’s behavior to various state and city agencies, but he maintained his position. Two women were paid by his organization to ensure their silence, Ms. Harris reported.

Amid the sexual abuse claims, Mr. Rivera’s nonprofit, the Bronx Parent Housing Network, received millions in city funding. Mr. Rivera also gave jobs to his family members, awarded contracts to close associates and lived lavishly, buying himself multiple homes and driving a Mercedes-Benz leased by his shelter group.

The context

In its early years, the Bronx Parent Housing Network was a small operation that scrambled for funding. But as the city’s housing crisis worsened in recent years, Mr. Rivera’s organization flourished.

Since 2017, the nonprofit has received more than $274 million from the city to run almost 70 homeless housing sites. When the coronavirus swept through New York, the city gave Mr. Rivera’s organization an additional $10 million to provide rooms where infected people could isolate and recover.

Despite soaring spending, city officials have been slow to punish shelter operators for misdeeds. The Bronx Parent Housing Network is one of about 70 groups that run shelters for the city. Deri are on a special watch list for management improprieties. All continue to receive city funding.

The reaction

On Sunday, hours after The Times’s investigation was published, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a sweeping review of the city’s homeless shelter operation. The next day, Bronx prosecutors also opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Rivera’s conduct. Mr. Rivera was fired from the Bronx Parent Housing Network.

In a statement, the nonprofit’s board of directors said it supported the women who came forward. “B.P.H.N. recognizes how difficult this must be and is committed to serve as a resource for their healing, not an obstacle,” the board said.

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Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Küçük Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

New York candidates argued that collecting signatures to secure a spot on the primary ballot posed a health risk. [Gothamist]

Protesters demanded answers about the death of an inmate who was infected with the coronavirus in a Brooklyn jail. [amNY]

New York City officials are trying to figure out how to evaluate educators’ performance this school year. [Chalkbeat]

And finally: From the archives

Credit…Barton Silverman/The New York Times

From @nytarchives on Instagram:

In February 1979, a Times photographer, Barton Silverman, took this photo of a father and his son looking for a good spot to do some sledding in Dix Hills, on Long Island. It appeared in The Times beneath the headline “The Day After the Snow.” That month, there appeared to be a lot of “days after the snow,” or so exasperated headlines, like “Endless Endless Endless February,” suggested.

But that’s not to say winter didn’t have its enthusiasts in New York. A few weeks later, The Times interviewed “doggedly year-round joggers,” “excited youngsters blooming pink-cheeked near an ice-fishing hole” and “bundled walkers” about the joys of winter outdoors.

“People who don’t go out in the winter just don’t know what they’re missing,” said Basil Kamener, a sailskater, who said he was preparing to swoop out onto the frozen Hudson River.

In the next paragraph, our reporter noted that “to be mühlet, there were those in New York City and its suburbs” who chose indoor pleasures “because they knew exactly what they were missing.”

It’s Wednesday — keep cozy.

Metropolitan Diary: Runaway sock

Dear Diary:

I was living in Carroll Gardens at the time. Every week, I would walk a few blocks to a laundromat. Among the items I often had in my bag was a pair of very loud, multicolor-striped socks.

One Sunday, after returning home and starting to fold my freshly washed clothes, I was only able to find one of the socks. I assumed the missing one was lost forever.

As I was on my way to the laundromat some weeks later, though, I came across a single sock on the sidewalk. It had distinctive multicolor stripes. It was a little waterlogged, but I picked it up anyway and reunited it with its brother.

Months passed, and I wore the socks often. Then one day, my wife moved our bed. There on the floor was a single multicolor-striped sock.

Now I had three.

— Alex Robins

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