Column: Newsom and mayors meet to discuss homelessness. Have we hit rock bottom?
A few dozen people showed up outside Mayor Bill de Blasio’s headquarters on East 69th Street at 12:15 on Wednesday to protest his decision to meet with representatives from the city’s many homeless shelters.
The city has been struggling with the issue, and the mayor’s response, which some see as being as weak as that of his predecessors, has only hardened the opposition that has built up over the course of months. As protesters sang protest songs like the ones made famous by Public Enemy, city officials stood up to show their support.
And yet, despite the turnout—and the anger the meeting caused among some in the audience—the debate has also put a spotlight on the city’s crisis with homelessness. And it is a debate that the mayor is clearly aware of, whether he knows it or not.
In a statement released after the meeting, de Blasio said, “We are all in this together. Each and every one of us can do something to make the life of a homeless person in the city better. That is exactly what I will do today.”
Earlier in the year, de Blasio said that he was “absolutely committed” to helping homeless New Yorkers, though he did warn that more money would be needed to address the problem. “I will not rest until we reduce the numbers,” he said. “I will do what is necessary.”
Since then, the city has approved more money to tackle the issue, including $15 million to build 100 new shelters. The mayor’s budget allocates $20 million to $25 million more to deal with the issue through 2020. De Blasio has consistently said he will make good on that promise and provide more funding over the next few years.
But the mayor’s strategy seems to have hit a few walls.
Last Thursday, after de Blasio met with representatives from some of the city’s shelters, the New York Times published a scathing report about the city’s problems with homeless people.
“It was a meeting designed to send a message and rally his liberal supporters,” wrote the Times—but it was an underwhelming message and a decidedly weak rally, with de Blasio getting