Michael Bloomberg, man of the people, has an explanation for why the number of homeless people in New York City's shelters has jumped 18 percent so far this year: Hoi polloi have just never seen amenities like these. "We have made our shelter system so much better that, unfortunately, when people are in it — or fortunately, depending on what your objective is — it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before," he said yesterday. "When we came into office, the shelter system was an abomination. People were driven around all night. The kids slept on benches. None of that happens again," — none! — "so there's less pressure on people to move out today." Oh, and maybe the economy a little bit, too, he noted.
More than 18,000 children, and more than 43,000 people overall, were living in shelters as of two weeks ago, numbers requiring the opening of nine new shelters in the last two months, the Times reports. All of them will presumably come with Whirlpools and complimentary eggs Benedict in bed, according to Bloomberg's billionaire logic.
But the mayor, despite his out-of-touch bumblings, likely knows full well what's going on, even beyond the glossed-over crummy economy:
One likely cause of the increase is the phasing out of a signature Bloomberg administration program called Advantage, which gave employed homeless people rent subsidies for up to two years, part of an effort to help them transition toward self-sufficiency.
The state withdrew its financial support last year, leading to the loss of federal funding, as well. The city, which had previously provided only a third of the financing, said it could not continue the program with only its own money.
"The mayor's assertion that homeless New Yorkers are staying in shelters longer because they're 'much more pleasurable' is shocking and offensive," said the executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless in the Post, which even had to laugh at Mike's ridiculousness. "Mayor Bloomberg systematically closed every single path to affordable housing once available to homeless families with vulnerable children. His failed policies are the major factor leading to the record shelter population this summer."
The Daily News, meanwhile, has photos from the Auburn Family Shelter in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, proudly referred to by one resident as "the slummiest place you can imagine." At night, she said, her kids go to the bathroom in a bucket. Maybe it's time for Bloomberg, who has homes from Bermuda to London, to come have a sleepover, just so he doesn't miss out on all of the pleasure.