De Blasio Takes on Bloomberg on Homelessness
January 19th, 2010
Take a look at the numbers, and the mayor’s homeless policies just aren’t working.
That was the message Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and homeless advocates sent this morning at a press conference urging the administration to rethink its homeless policies five years after it committed to reduce homelessness by two-thirds. Since the mayor took office, according to Mary Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless, the number of homeless New Yorkers has increased by 45 percent.
“Their original goal was gutsy and noble and I think it took a lot of commitment and focus to even put that goal out,” said de Blasio. “But they did not follow up on it with the same kind of fervor and focus as they have in some other areas. So now acknowledge that the previous strategies have not worked, and borrow from old strategies that did work and create new ones and work with the people that are some of the experts right here next to me,” the newly minted public advocate said from his 15th floor office in the municipal building.
Act one, said de Blasio, should be giving homeless families priority for Section 8 vouchers, which was the practice under the three previous administrations before Bloomberg. The practice was suspended in 2005. The administration should also stop referring homeless individuals to three-quarter houses — small residential buildings that operate as illegal boarding houses, according to the public advocate’s office.
In the council, de Blasio introduced a bill that would have banned the city from referring homeless individuals to facilities that failed to meet occupancy standards.
In a letter to Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs dated January 18, de Blasio implored the administration to hold homeless services harmless in the upcoming budget negotiations by keeping open shelters slated for closure or by securing replacement facilities before their doors are locked. De Blasio also urged the administration to focus more on prevention.
This latest dispute is one of many more likely to come with de Blasio as public advocate.By Courtney Gross on January 19, 2010, 2:03 pm
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