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Security guards at migrant shelters in New York earn $117 an hour: City Hall rushed to sign contracts and agreed to huge salaries


Alina Prikhodko

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Security guards at the city's migrant shelters are paid up to $117 an hour, more than four times the legal wage. According to New York Post, this was thanks to the no-bid contracts that Mayor Eric Adams' administration hastily awarded to combat the crisis.

Deals negotiated under the city's emergency contracting system have allowed various for-profit companies to charge "extremely high rates" for work in migrant shelters. The lack of control and inspections led to exorbitant expenses.

“The city's haphazard approach to awarding these contracts—and the subsequent failure to compare or monitor their prices—highlights the pitfalls of poor emergency procurement management,” City Comptroller Brad Lander said following his office's audit. “As a result, city agencies likely spent millions of dollars more than necessary for the same services.”

A review of four of the most expensive deals found that wardens and security staff at different asylum seeker shelters received “dramatically different rates” despite providing the same services. The hourly rate the city pays private security guards ranged from $50 to $117 across all four contracts—significantly higher than the base wage rate of $27,58 an hour.

A comparison of similar job descriptions showed that contracts awarded to Garner, SLSCO, and DocGo paid security officers approximately $117, $90, and $50 per hour.

Transactions without tender

The deals the Adams administration lobbied for turned out to be “drastically more expensive” than hiring new city employees to staff the shelters. “Annualized savings would be approximately $50 million if certain staffing were achieved through hiring city employees rather than through an emergency contract,” the report states.

On the subject: Sanctuary city for migrants: what problems does this status create for New York?

As it turned out, at the beginning дactions of the SLSCO contract, a Texas disaster response firm, paid about $1 for an eight-hour shift, and DocGo (a COVID testing firm turned migrant shelter) paid $500 a day. By comparison, Essey paid out just under $2 per day.

Three of the four contracts were awarded without competitive bidding under emergency powers the comptroller granted the mayor in November 2022 to deal with the ongoing influx of migrants. Essey is the only contract of the four analyzed that went through a competitive bidding process.

The review comes as the Adams administration looks to award a controversial contract to a New Jersey company to provide migrant workers prepaid credit cards The one-year deal with financial services company Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi) raised eyebrows among some City Council members, who noted that the contract did not go through the usual competitive selection process.

Lander said Tuesday, Feb. 27, that the city's "haphazard approach to awarding these contracts, as well as the subsequent failure to compare or monitor their prices, highlights the pitfalls of inadequate emergency procurement management."

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