Treading Water in a Tide of Homelessness

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a major speech on homelessness on Tuesday, promoting a plan he calls “Turning the Tide.” This was interesting because, as we know, not even kings can turn tides. If he had called it “Lowering Expectations” or “Treading Water,” he might have more accurately conveyed reality, though the speech would have lost some of its aspirational quality.

Mr. de Blasio deserves credit for candor, anyway. He acknowledged that homelessness has reached historic highs on his watch, with more than 60,000 people in shelters and many thousands living visibly and distressingly on the streets and in the subways. And he said he saw no quick end to the problem, which has worsened, on and off, for 35 years. But he promised that with diligent effort, the city could slowly gain control over the crisis and, over time, subdue it.

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