We Can Do Better On Homelessness - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the December 2019 Juniper Berry Magazine

We Can Do Better On Homelessness

A message for voters: If there's one reason not to support Mayor de Blasio, it's because of how terribly he's handled NYC's homeless crisis. Since he became mayor in 2014, the homeless shelter population has increased by an average of 10% per year while spending on homelessness has doubled within the same period.

The homeless epidemic has also become more and more visually evident, as it's estimated that nearly 4,000 people are sleeping on public property each night. These are unacceptable statistics for the Big Apple – one of the wealthiest and most iconic cities in the world.

The city's massive spending program has done little to mitigate homelessness. Part of the problem is DeBlasio's belief that the homeless have a right to live on city streets. In the effort to promote better community relations, DeBlasio has limited the ability of the police to detain street dwellers for questioning and to channel them into the shelter system.

Karlin Chan, a member of Chinatown's Community Board 3, says that if people seem to be engaging in menacing behavior, the police simply bring them in to give them a shower and release them back onto the street within hours.

The city has also failed in the treatment of the mentally ill, many of whom happen to be homeless. First Lady Chirlane McCray's $1-billion Thrive initiative has done virtually nothing to address this problem. In over two years, Thrive's medical facility that treats the homeless and mentally ill saw less than 1,000 patients during a 2 1/2-year span. To put that figure in perspective, the NYPD received 180,000 calls regarding mentally unstable individuals in 2018 alone.

With little to no vetting of our homeless population, the city is unable to account for exactly how many people are wandering the streets. Therefore, we have no idea whether or not these vagrants are mentally healthy or from where they come.

What's the mayor's latest solution? It's to relocate the homeless population to other cities and pay their rent for an entire year ‒ namely, the Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) program. Besides being clearly unethical, SOTA has cost taxpayers $89 million in rent, which doesn't include travel and furnishing costs.

This is not only an enormous expenditure but also, as with de Blasio's other initiatives, ineffective. Many of SOTA's emigrants have come back to the Big Apple to be homeless again, and some are suing the city for housing them in unlivable conditions.

De Blasio's track record indicates that he has no clue about how to fix NYC's homeless epidemic. Just as he thinks redistributing the crisis to the entire nation is a good idea, he wants to make sure that relatively affluent and safe neighborhoods such as Middle Village and Glendale incur the homeless burden as well. As a community and as a city, we need to band together and vote to ensure that a mayor as disastrous as de Blasio never has the privilege of serving the Big Apple again.

December 2019 Juniper Berry Magazine

December 2019 Table of Contents