Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio appointed Lilliam Barrios-Paoli deputy mayor for health and human services on Thursday. He is pictured here flanked by his First Deputy Mayor-Elect Anthony Shorris and Barrios-Paoli. Credit: Anna Sanders
Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio appointed a City Hall veteran to head social service and health agencies in his administration, naming Lilliam Barrios-Paoli deputy mayor for department of health and human services Thursday.
De Blasio said he chose Barrios-Paoli because she shared his "urgency" in expanding health care, preventing and reducing homelessness and protecting services.
"I know it's a huge assignment to have to fight on all these fronts simultaneously, but I know that Lilliam Barrios-Paoli is up to the task," de Blasio said, calling her a "reformer."
Barrios-Paoli has held top-level positions under the last three mayors. She has also had a notable career in nonprofits, most recently running Safe Space NYC, which provides counseling to abused and vulnerable children and families throughout the city.
As deputy mayor, Barrios-Paoli will oversee several city agencies that work with some of the city’s most vulnerable populations.
Agencies working with such groups, such as the homeless, are sometimes accused by advocates of taking an auditing approach to their duties — attempting to weed out those who may not qualify for services — rather than focusing on outreach and providing services.
But in discussing Barrios-Paoli's appointment, de Blasio painted a different picture for the city’s future, pledging to reduce the city's homeless shelter population, which has steadily increased to roughly 52,000 people.
“We are simply are not going to allow this kind of reality to continue,” de Blasio said.
Barrios-Paoli cited de Blasio's "Tale of Two Cities" in accepting the appointment.
"I've spent the bulk of my career trying to work on behalf of the poor," she said. "It is incredibly exciting for me to be in administration that really makes that a central tenet."
Mary Brosnahan, head of the Coalition for the Homeless, praised Barrios-Paoli.
"She is smart, dedicated and tireless – exactly the combination New York needs to reverse record homelessness and restore hope to our most vulnerable neighbors," Brosnahan said in a statement.