Mayor Bloomberg insisted this morning that his homeless policies are compassionate. If turning vulnerable children away from life-saving shelter in the bitter cold is his idea of compassion, then I think most New Yorkers would disagree. Ending Code Blue protections for families seeking shelter is just the latest – and perhaps most dangerous – policy misstep this mayor has made.
The undeniable fact is that despite Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to slam shut the shelter door, 49,000 people including 20,000 kids sleep each night in homeless shelters – 60 percent more than the day he took office.
Mayor Bloomberg can try to deflect blame all he wants, but thousands of these homeless families would have moved out of shelter and gotten back on their feet if the Mayor had simply followed the strategy of moving families into permanent, affordable housing that Mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani all used with success.
Rather than taking responsibility for record homelessness on his watch, the mayor continues to blame everyone else. Today he blamed the State for ending Advantage – even though Advantage graduates were returning to shelter in record numbers. He blamed mentally-ill men and women suffering on our streets for not wanting help – even though he’s been in court trying to make it more difficult for them to enter emergency shelter. He blames homeless families for trying to game the system – even though they clearly have nowhere else to turn.
Mayor Bloomberg may not want to hear it, but his administration’s disastrous response to homeless will be a major part of his legacy, and a major headache for his successor.
The Coalition for the Homeless responded today to Mayor Bloomberg’s assertion on the John Gambling show that the City’s homeless policies are “compassionate.” The following statement can be attributed to Mary Brosnahan, President of the Coalition for the Homeless: