Banks Leaves Legal Aid for City Human Resources Agency
Friday, February 28, 2014
- New York Law Journal
Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the New York City Legal Aid Society since 2004, was named commissioner of the city's Human Resources Administration by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday.
Banks said he has "waited my entire life" to find a mayor whose attitudes toward low-income New Yorkers are in line with his.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime to work under a mayor who has the values that I share and the values that are going to make a real difference for the clients that I have represented for so many years," Banks said at a news conference today at City Hall.
Banks said one of his aims at HRA will be to make sure the agency treats clients with dignity.
"We've got to look at each policy and procedure to see whether or not people are treated fairly," Banks said. "The word 'human' is in the title of the agency, the Human Resources Administration. We have to make sure that people are treated as human beings."
For his part, de Blasio said he has long watched as Banks has been "fighting for what he believes is right" at the Legal Aid Society.
"I believe he has been a voice for the voicelessness and a lot of times he challenged government policies that didn't make a lot of sense," de Blasio said. "He was an important part of the check and balance system in this city."
The Democratic mayor added, "I knew his heart and I think he had a vision for HRA that was really compelling as to how it can contribute to the overall fight against inequality in the city."
The Legal Aid Society has a staff of 1,900, about 1,000 of whom are lawyers. Banks, a New York University School of Law graduate, has been with the Legal Aid Society for 31 years.