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PR- 111-06
April 11, 2006


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Robert Hess as the Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Jennifer Jones Austin to the newly created position of Family Services Coordinator for New York City.  

"New York City is fortunate to have Rob Hess take over the reigns of the Department of Homeless Services," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "Rob's nearly 20 years of experience in social services and his outstanding record of achievement in the Department of Adult Services in Philadelphia makes him uniquely qualified to head DHS.  Over the last four years, we have turned DHS around and instilled dignity and compassion into the services provided to New Yorkers who are homeless. Rob will continue this legacy of reform and accomplishment.

"New York City's Department of Homeless Services has become a model for the rest of the nation," said Commissioner Hess.  "It's a great honor to join the Bloomberg Administration and continue its excellent work and help fulfill the Mayor's commitment to ending homelessness as we know it within five years. I look forward to working with this talented group of public servants to provide the best possible service to DHS's clients and to the people of New York."

The mission of the Department of Homeless services is to overcome homelessness in New York City.  DHS prevents homelessness wherever possible and provides short-term emergency shelter and re-housing support whenever needed. Mayor Bloomberg has committed the City to reducing homeless by two thirds by 2009. Since the Mayor announced his plan in June 2004, there has been a 23% decrease in the number of homeless children and a 10% decline in the number of homeless families. Commissioner Hess replaces Linda Gibbs who is now the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services. 

Commissioner Hess was the Deputy Managing Director, supervising adult services for the City of Philadelphia. During his tenure, Commissioner Hess developed the Mayor's ten-year plan to end homelessness in Philadelphia, reduced the number of individuals living on the streets of Philadelphia by over 60% and created the first Housing First programs for chronically homeless individuals. Prior to his service to the City of Philadelphia, Commissioner Hess was the President and CEO of the Center for Poverty Solutions in Baltimore, Maryland and the President and CEO of the Maryland Food Committee.  Commissioner Hess earned a B.S. from the University of Maryland and is a veteran of the United States Army.   He is married to Tish Hess, a Registered Nurse, and they have two children Christi, age 22 and Brittany age 20.

"Jennifer Jones Austin has the unique combination of skills and experience to make the new Family Services Coordinator job a success," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "She understands New York City's government and has the creativity and drive to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy to make sure that New York's families are getting the service they need.  Working with Deputy Mayor Gibbs, she will be an outstanding addition to our Health and Human Service Team."

"It is a great honor to take on the new responsibility of Family Services Coordinator," said Coordinator Jones Austin.  "Having worked for New York City for the majority of my professional life, it is tremendously gratifying to tackle this exciting challenge of fostering collaboration and implementing best practices across our City's family service agencies.  We have a lot of work to do and I look forward to making the most of this tremendous opportunity."

The Family Services Coordinator, a new position created by Mayor Bloomberg in January, will be responsible for identifying and implementing collaborations across City agencies to provide services to children, families and single adults in need.  The Coordinator will advance best-practice reforms and use technology to improve management of social services agencies.  The coordinator will work with all City agencies under Deputy Mayor Gibbs' jurisdiction. 

Coordinator Jones Austin was the Deputy Commissioner at the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) for Communications and Government Affairs and previously served as Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning at ACS.  She was the Vice President for Client Development and Management at Learnnow Inc./Edison Schools and was the Deputy Bureau Chief for Policy, Legislation and Public Outreach in Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General's Office.  Coordinator Jones Austin is a graduate of Midwood High School, holds a B.A. from Rutgers University, a Masters of Science, Management and Policy from New York University and J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law.  She is married to Shawn Austin, Vice President, Direct Marketing at AIG, and has two children, Kennedy, age eight, and Channing, age four, and they live in Lefferts Manor.


Stu Loeser/Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-295

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