NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is drawing criticism and confused reaction from homeless advocates and straphangers alike for comments he made at a news conference on Monday.
When a reporter asking about cell phones on the subway mentioned panhandlers, Bloomberg quipped “there aren’t very many panhandlers left in all fairness to the MTA, come on.”
The comments left some subway riders dumbfounded and wondering what subway the mayor is riding.
“I’m actually a big fan of Mayor Bloomberg, but for him to say that…he’s not in tune with what’s happening because they’re still there. I mean people are hurting,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.
1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon Gets Reaction From Straphangers
“Depends where he’s at. In Brooklyn, there’s more panhandlers and in like Queens. You see a whole lot of them on the train,” another subway passenger said.
Between the economy and the high cost of living in the city, homelessness has skyrocketed. The Coalition for the Homeless reports the number has risen 45 percent in the last six years.
Other advocacy groups called the mayor’s remarks insensitive.
“They’re not invisible at all — they’re there. And any regular rider will tell you that there are folks that are asking for help,” another straphanger said.
“I think there are more actually than…like last year or the year before,” one man said.
While other straphangers said they haven’t really noticed a significant difference in the number of homeless people on trains, they still felt the situation was a bad one.
“I don’t know which trains he’s taking, but definitely there are folks out there that are in need of additional help,” another rider remarked.
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