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Homeless Advocates Call Bloomberg’s Remarks About City Shelters ‘Shocking’

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file/credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file/credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York City has made its homeless shelters so “much more pleasurable” that there’s less pressure for people to leave.

Bloomberg said Thursday that before he came into office, the shelter system was an “abomination.” He said he’s proud they “provide a safe, clean environment with on-site security, support services and caseworkers for children on site.”

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

“We have made our shelter system so much better that unfortunately when people are in it, or fortunately depending on what your objective is, it is a much more pleasurable experience,” he said.

The mayor was responding to a question that the average stay for families had jumped 30 percent during the 2012 fiscal year.

But Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Mary Brosnahan said the remarks were “shocking.”

“To suggest that homeless families are staying longer in the shelter system because it’s ‘more pleasurable,’ as he said, than anything they’ve experienced before, is really shocking and just callous,” Brosnahan told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

Giselle Routhier, a policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, said Bloomberg should blame himself for the number of people staying in shelters.

“The reason that the shelter census has been going up and up over the past few months is not because the shelter is a great place to be, it’s because for the first time ever, there’s no housing assistance in place to move families from shelters to permanent housing,” she told 1010 WINS.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said Bloomberg was “living in a fantasy world.”

Nearly 45,000 people, including 19,000 children, are currently living in city homeless shelters.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)