Early Tuesday morning, from midnight to 3:00 am, hundreds of New Yorkers fanned out across the five boroughs as part of Breaking Ground’s Hope Count, working to tally the uncountable: the Big Apple’s ever-growing, constantly shifting homeless population.
New York is facing its worst homelessness crisis since the Great Depression thanks to the total incompetence and utter failure of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who treats his full-time job as a part-time position.
The statistics are excruciating: An estimated 60,000 people now sleep in New York City shelters on any given night. Untold thousands more sleep on the streets, avoiding city shelters like the plague. They’re afraid of being robbed, assaulted, or worse at the poorly managed facilities, an all-too-often occurrence.
It gets worse: The New York Times reported this year that about one out of 13 New York City public school children is without a home. Twenty-four-thousand of those children sleep in temporary shelters every night because the City lacks affordable housing options. Think about that: tens of thousands of New York City kids go back to homeless shelters after the final bell rings at school, if they make it to school in the first place.
It’s unconscionable that this has become the status quo in America’s largest, greatest city. New York needs new, independent leadership.
De Blasio’s inexcusable mismanagement of the homelessness crisis, as well as his unmitigated failures on housing, affordability, quality of life, jobs, and public safety, is why I’m running for Mayor of New York City.
While thousands sleep on the streets and children pack shelters, part-time Bill sleeps in, spending his late morning hours in a Brooklyn gym sipping lattes before rolling into City Hall with his police escort around noon. De Blasio spends his time there conferring with a team of criminal defense attorneys defending him in six separate corruption probes at the federal, state, and city levels.
I witnessed the heartwrenching human cost of de Blasio’s part-time mayoralty on the streets of New York in the early hours of Tuesday morning, as a volunteer with the Hope Count.
On almost every block, two or three heads poked out from a cardboard box or makeshift sleeping bag. The young and healthy paced the street to stay warm; the older and less mobile were buried in layer upon layer of rags to stave off the cold.
A younger man on 51st Street had been on the streets for about a year. He became homeless when his house in Jamaica, Queens burned up. “Houses don’t burn down,” he emphasized, “they burn up, bottom to top. Another man in a bright psychedelic tee shirt explained that he wasn’t really homeless. He had come here from California and was just “cooling it out on the streets” until something came along. But he knew.
The homeless headcount will confirm what every New Yorker but Bill de Blasio has known for the past three years: New York City is in the midst of an unfolding humanitarian disaster. Gross mismanagement at City Hall has allowed a challenging, but manageable problem, to spiral out of control.
Despite the rapidly growing number of homeless families in New York, and the mounting economic pressures on the working and middle class, a woefully small number of new or rehabbed housing units are slated to come online anytime soon. The city needs 400,000 new units over the next 10 years to keep up with population growth and to compensate for older housing stock aging out. Mayor de Bill Blasio swears that just under 7,000 new affordable units were built last year. I’m doubtful of even that.
Solving the homeless crisis starts with sweeping reform of the shelter system, including eliminating dangerous cluster housing that recently cost the lives of two young girls in the Bronx, and ending outrageously expensive hotel housing that cost taxpayers $29 million over the last 12 months. Instead, we need to make existing housing safe by getting the mentally ill out of shelters and into treatment, while prioritizing safety and security for the families residing there.
I will rapidly expand and build new supportive housing for the homeless, giving them access to on-site social services and a clear pathway to getting back on their feet. By working with communities to provide the zoning and new housing they want, I will make it easier for New Yorkers to get out of the shelter system and back into homes they can call their own.
If the human tragedy playing out on New York City streets were happening abroad, we’d call in the Red Cross. But it’s happening here, and Part-time Bill continues to hit the snooze button while children are huddled on the street, or packing up their school bags in dangerous shelters.
Too many are suffering the consequences of de Blasio’s failure, whether they are suffering on the streets or struggling to get by. New Yorkers know that our city can do better, and I believe that we can. A first step: fire part-time mayor Bill de Blasio.
Source: Real Clear Politics