A Freeport homeless shelter’s employees weren’t paid for months—and in one case, nearly two years—auditors found, prompting the Nassau County Comptroller to expand the review to all taxpayer-funded shelters.
The audit of Eager to Serve, Inc.’s Sunshine Residence found hourly rates paid to employees were less than the rates mandated by the Living Wage Law—$15.50 an hour without health benefits, or $13.58 with health benefits—for 11 employees from 2012 to 2014 for a total of $4,899, according to the comptroller’s office.
“The audit findings are not only very disturbing but may also underscore more extensive issues with the quality of housing provided to our neediest residents,” Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said. “We intend to open a more extensive audit of the Homeless Shelter Industry on the quality of shelter being provided with taxpayer money.”
The county paid the Sunshine Residence more than $650,000 between 2012 and 2014, Maragos said. As a result of the audit’s findings, county officials worry that other homeless shelter funding has been misused.
“We intend to fully comply with all rules, laws and mandates and have our attorneys and accountants regularly ensuring compliance,” Levada Felder, executive director of the Sunshine Residence, wrote in her response to the audit’s findings.
Discrepancies were found between the numbers of hours employees worked based on their pay stubs versus the hours shown on timesheets, auditors found.
Since the audit was completed, Felder started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $10,000 for the Sunshine Residence.
In addition, she has posted a “Wish List” for the shelter, asking for people to serve the roles of volunteer coordinator, babysitter, carpenter, cleaners, decorators, gardeners, and painters and for donated goods which include bricks, car seats, a new computer, cribs, dishes, metro cards, office furniture and a working car.