- Last Updated: 4:29 PM, March 8, 2013
- Posted: 2:24 PM, March 8, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg today blamed New York’s overcrowded homeless shelters on a law that forces the city to provide a bed to anyone who asks -- even if they’re rich.
"You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system, walk in the door and we've got to give you shelter. That's what the law is. I didn't write the law,” he said on his weekly WOR radio show.
The comments came the week that the Coalition for the Homeless issued a report saying that the city’s homeless population exploded in the past year.
“It’s pretty ludicrous to claim that there are people flying in private jets and taking private limos to the shelter system,” said Patrick Markee of the coalition. “He didn’t seem to want to take responsibility for the fact that there are more than 50,000 people sleeping in city shelters, including 21,000 children.”
The mayor blamed the cancellation of a state program, called Advantage, that provided temporary rent subsidies for homeless people.
"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."
The mayor attacked Coalition for the Homeless – though not by name – saying it favored canceling the program.
"It was the dumbest thing. They talk about helping people and either they are totally duplicitous or they're misguided,” he said. "The city taxpayer just can't go and subsidize everybody's rents. It's fundamentally what these people want."
"We were critical of that program -- there's no question of it,” said Markee. “But that's a far different thing than saying that we wanted to end funding for it and not replace it with something else."