The problem of Homelessness in NYC is one of those topics that makes everybody point the finger of blame at somebody else, like the famous Thomas Nast cartoon of the Boss Tweed era,– “Who Stole the People’s Money?”– which shows a circle of local bigwigs each pointing their finger of blame at the next one.
Everyone seems to agree that the real major problem of NYC Homelessness started back a long time ago when the State of New York began closing big State Mental Hospitals and dumping mentally ill people into “SRO’s” , mostly in NYC, and a lot for instance on the liberal Upper West Side, where it was promised all sorts of “services” would be provided etc. etc.
Soon we had the spectacle of all these “shopping bag ladies” out on the streets with their belongings in bags, usually muttering to themselves. They joined the ranks of “Bowery Bums” and the drifters who floated into NY for welfare handouts and severe addiction problems who ended sleeping wherever they could for the night.
Mayor Dinkins founded a Homeless Bureau which of course started off setting up corruptly run shelters, such as the notorious Bellevue one in Manhattan ( no connection to the Hospital, just proximity) where the food was provided by Mob owned companies at inflated prices and drug dealers used them as havens, and all sorts of other abuses. The Huge shelter on Ward’s Island got into the news where one Halloween, some of their more psycho residents lay in wait that night and killed and beheaded men who were coming back onto the Island for shelter ,…
One of the first acts of Mayor Giuliani was to shake up the shelter system, starting with firing the totally incompetent politcal appointee who ran the big Bellevue shelter and firing many of the minority group “social workers”, whose actually national status was often in doubt ( the director at Bellevue, who was being sued by a disgruntled Vietnam vet who had been mangled by the system, fled back to her native Haiti– insiders said ” she’ll be back soon under a different name.” Thus is Life in the big city.
Mayor Bloomberg took a rather laissez faire attitude towards the Homeless; it was not an isssue that aroused much publicity or any onus for him– he was more interested in policies of gentrification that would , of course, help spur the later crisis.
The Commissioner of Homless Services recently resigned by but was reassigned by the ever left-footed and bungling Mayor DeBlasio, who has been flailing around with the problem and announcing how well all is going –while it doesn’t look that way to most observers.
Says the NY expose publication “The Gothamist”: ( Quoting DeBlasio):
“We thought it was time to step back and look at the structures that are 20 years old.” The mayor added that the city is facing “a different kind of homelessness