Nonprofit “Dorm King” Reigns Supreme

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February 13, 2011; Source: New York Daily News |  George Scott is the president of Educational Housing Services, a nonprofit that controls 5,000 student dorm rooms in Manhattan and Brooklyn, making him the head of the largest provider of off-campus dorm rooms in the city.  His questionable financial practices have lead to an investigation of his firm by the New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

EHS has compensated Scott at approximately $1 million a year since 2007.  The agency loaned him, with no paperwork, just under $55,000 to pay off personal expenditures charged to the nonprofit’s American Express card.  It also paid his wife’s firm $4.9 million for providing cable, phone, and Internet service to the dorm rooms.  Three members of EHS’s five-person board are paid by EHS for “consulting services.” 

These and other high-flying financially unusual practices seem to be part of Scott’s professional persona. Scott’s business card shows him in sunglasses with the tagline, “You gotta problem with student housing? I’m ready to rumble!”  His Facebook page interests are listed as “race car driving” and “women, wine and song.” Scott is a distinctive personality in the nonprofit sector, making money for himself, his spouse, and his board while wearing the charitable garb of serving the public through providing students with dorm rooms. 

He has recently attracted the attention of charity watchdogs such as the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator; neither convinced that EHS is fully on the up-and-up, and the New York State attorney general, who has launched an investigation.  With the AG digging in, Scott may be in for more of a rumble than he ever might have expected.—Rick Cohen