Mike Bloomberg, our billionaire mayor from Boston, continues to be completely tone-deaf regarding New York City's serious homeless shelter situation. Just days after he tried to blame the city's soaring homeless rate on the Coalition for the Homeless he switched gears today and decided to blame the high numbers on...New York City being too generous to millionaires looking for cheap rooms. Or something.
Talking on his WOR-AM radio show this morning, the mayor blamed the massive number of people in our shelters (48,641 people stayed in NYC shelters on Wednesday night) on the fact that (because of a rule passed by Ed Koch) the city can't turn people away. "You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system and walk in the door and we've got to give you shelter," the 13th richest person in the world explained. And, if you take his word for it, Bloomberg's right. After all, "We’re three to 10 times more compassionate than the other cities," he recently assured reporters.
The mayor also blamed the homeless situation on the state's decision to cancel its funding for the Advantage program. "That program went away. So we're having trouble moving people out of the shelter system," he said. "The good news is there's fewer people coming in, but there's nobody going out the door on the other side." Any validity to that point, however, got tossed aside when Bloomberg, for the second time this week, tried to push the blame on the end of that program towards the Coalition for the Homeless (this time without name-checking them). According to Hizzoner, the group favored canceling the program, which isn't exactly the way it went down. At all.
"The claim that the city is making now is completely, patently false," the Coalitions' Patrick Markee said of the mayor's attempts to blame it for the end of the Advantage program. "This is a mayor who talks constantly about accountability, but won't take accountability for his own failures," he went on. "Since he took office the homeless shelter population has grown by 61 percent and the number of homeless families has increased by 73 percent."
But clearly that giant leap in the city's shelter population has nothing to do with the serious economic problems in Bloomberg's New York and everything to do with all those crazy rich kids fresh off their private jets from Ibiza skipping the Plaza for the comfort of the city's oh-so "pleasurable" shelters. Said no one ever. Well, until today.