The Real Deal New York

Yes, homelessness is a problem: Mayor de Blasio

Mayor changes tack in interview with WNYC's Brian Lehrer

September 02, 2015 09:00AM

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Bill de Blasio and a New York homeless shelter

After months of dissembling and redirection, Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted the number and the condition of the city’s homeless residents is indeed a serious problem.

“I think there is both a perception and a reality problem,” de Blasio said in an interview with Brian Lehrer of WNYC.

The city’s homeless shelters are now home to at least 56,000 people, and thousands more are living in the street. Around 3,000 families have been placed in private rental buildings throughout the city under the so-called “cluster-site” program, but even city officials call the program an abject failure.

The deputy mayor tasked with addressing the homelessness problem, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, resigned her position just yesterday.

De Blasio emphasized the economic roots of homelessness and blamed the Bloomberg administration’s decision to end the Advantage subsidy program, that he said kept shelter resident numbers at nearly half their current levels.

The mayor also defended his own administration’s record, saying the numbers would have been still higher without it’s efforts.

“It’s a complicated problem and the notion that you can minimize that — that’s not a serious look at how to solve the problem,” de Blasio said. [WNYC] – Ariel Stulberg