Record homelessness and increasing strains on the shelter system are not flying under the radar as perhaps Mayor Bloomberg would hope. Instead the problem is getting front and center attention from the media, advocates, shelter residents, and neighbors. Today’s Wall Street Journal highlights longer shelter stays, record numbers of families and kids, and most importantly the administration’s lack of a housing plan.
But it’s not as if Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t have options. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has proposed a plan that would allow homeless families to access available public housing units in addition to creating a new rental subsidy, but the administration refuses to act.
In the meantime, things continue to look bleak for those families trapped in an unforgiving shelter system:
"There's no funding, there's no programs to help us. It's like they're setting us up for failure," said Christina Valle, 27, who, along with her husband, Kevin McClanahan, is currently staying at a new shelter on the Upper West Side. They have been in the system for a year, she said.
"If you don't find housing they'll just keep moving you from here to there, but they have no programs to help us find houses. It's very limited," said Ms. Valle, who is studying to be a nurse. "It's embarrassing to have to walk out with scrubs on from a shelter."
Update: At a new's conference today, Mayor Bloomberg responded to this article by blaming the spike in homelessness on "more pleasurable" shelter conditions than in years past, once again showing he is wildly out of touch. Here's how we responded:
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"The Mayor's assertion that homeless New Yorkers are staying in shelters longer because they are 'much more pleasurable' is shocking and offensive. Mayor Bloomberg systematically closed every single path to affordable housing once available to homeless families with vulnerable children. His failed policies are the major factor leading to the record shelter population this summer. Blaming homeless families and suggesting they are luxuriating in 'pleasurable' accommodations shows just how badly the mayor is out of touch."