Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner (DOCCS)

DOCCS Contact: Peter K. Cutler, 518-457-8182 peter.cutler@doccs.ny.gov

Friday, April 13, 2012

DOCCS TO ELIMINATE STAFF HOUSING

Department’s Annual Review Process of Residential Assets
Includes Plan to Eliminate Unneeded State-Owned Residences

ALBANY – Building on Governor Cuomo’s directive last year to close seven prisons, which will save state taxpayers an estimated $184 million, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision today announced that its annual review of residential staff housing will include the eventual elimination of staff residences that do not meet the core mission of the agency. Last week, DOCCS announced that it was undertaking a review of all staff housing, focusing on every aspect of its state-owned residential structures to determine appropriate annual rental rates as recommended by DOB, but to also see if any of the structures could be put on the market and sold. The Department’s goal is to determine the most economical course of action for the state on the ultimate disposition of all of its state-owned residential properties.

“Given Governor Cuomo’s mandate to all state agencies to thoroughly review their operations for increased savings and efficiencies, DOCCS will work with the appropriate state agencies to review all of our state-owned properties and evaluate the ability to sell houses associated with prison property, particularly our superintendents' houses,” said Commissioner Brian Fischer. “The first step following such a review and determining what assets should be sold is declaring the property as surplus in accordance with state regulations and vacating the premises. We must also be certain that any proposed sale of surplused property does not cause the state to lose money on any sales, since vacated property that is not sold will either have to be maintained or demolished, which, in either case, will incur costs to the state. In addition, our review will also look at increasing monthly rental rates for our state-owned residential properties.”

At the top of the DOCCS review are designated superintendents’ residences. There are 23 such designated residences across the state, 11 of which are vacant, two are used for non-residential purposes and five are occupied by DOCCS staff (not superintendents).

In 2010, 13 DOCCS superintendents lived in designated superintendents’ homes. Today, five superintendents live in such residences. All pay monthly rents (including utility costs – 20% for heat and 7% for electricity) that result from the state’s collective bargaining agreements, which are set forth in DOB rental rate guidelines for state agencies.

Overall, there are currently 922 DOCCS staff living in state-owned structures; they represent 3/10 of one percent of the Department’s 29,296 employees (which includes 19,392 security personnel – correction officers, sergeants, lieutenants and captains). More specifically, 785 uniformed security staff reside in residential facilities and an additional 137 staff, including executive staff (e.g., superintendents, deputy superintendents) and civilians (e.g., counselors, nurses), live in state-owned residences. The Department currently maintains a total of 841 housing units, 695 of which are occupied. In several instances, multiple individuals occupy a single, dormitory-like unit.

This summer, the former Auburn Correctional Facility superintendent’s residence will be sold and DOCCS is reviewing similar options for the other designated superintendent residences. Of the 23 superintendent residences, 12 are located on prison property and 11 are located within one mile of prison property.

“Many of DOCCS’ superintendents’ residences were built when the earliest prisons were constructed, during a time when transportation and communication were a challenge and there was a need for the warden to live on-site,” said Commissioner Fischer. “Others were already on the grounds when DOCCS took over facilities from mental health and other agencies. Most superintendents’ residences are located on the grounds of, or connected through their infrastructure to, a prison, making them potentially difficult to market. Nevertheless, DOCCS is exploring their sale or alternate use, as well as selling the residences that are not connected to their prison and are, therefore, potentially more marketable. This is a significant challenge for DOCCS, especially since we have to maintain the assets while they remain in our possession. As everyone knows, even a new home will start to deteriorate if left vacant for an extended period.”

In addition to the sale of the former Auburn Superintendent’s residence, DOCCS is also looking at other vacant residences for similar action and five former residential structures (three associated with Attica CF and two with Clinton CF) are scheduled for demolition.

Commissioner Fischer last week also directed staff to reexamine state-owned residential structures located either on or off prison property in terms of monthly utility costs to determine if the DOB guidelines were being properly calculated for each structure and thus charged to the respective tenants.

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is responsible for the care, custody and treatment of individuals sentenced to state prison and for working with them to ensure their successful re-entry into the community. The Department operates 60 correctional facilities (including the Willard Drug Treatment Campus and the Edgecombe Residential Drug Treatment facility) and oversees 38 community supervision (parole) field offices across the state. DOCCS currently provides care, custody and supervision of approximately 95,000 individuals:56,000 in custody in correctional and drug treatment facilities and 39,000 under post-release community supervision.

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