NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A coalition of elected officials, community groups and others are calling for an end of what they say is the “demonization” of homeless people in New York City.

They will be gathering Tuesday for a rally at City Hall. Organizers say the city’s homeless should not be blamed for any quality of life issues and claim the media is dehumanizing those who sleep on the streets.

They also called a recent campaign by the Sergeants Benevolent Association “particularly nasty.” It urged off-duty officers to take pictures of quality-of-life offenders to document what union president Ed Mullins called “a city in decline.”

“The idea that somehow you could win public support by demonizing, by dehumanizing the most vulnerable in our society is absurd,” Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan earlier this month to deal with the mentally ill homeless who are also violent as 311 calls related to the homeless are on the rise across the city

“It will have some impact on street homeless, but as you’ve heard, not an overwhelming impact because it’s such a small percentage of those that are street homeless to begin with,” the mayor said.

In a recent poll, only 33 percent of New Yorkers said their quality of life is very good or good. Sixty-five percent said their quality of life is fair, poor or very poor.

But Berg said New Yorkers need to get their priorities straight, Schuck reported.

“Today in New York City, more rich people from around the world own apartments that they keep empty throughout most of the year than there are homeless people in New York City,” he said. “When the city has so many billionaires and yet we have over 50,000 people sleeping in homeless shelters.”

Berg said he feels de Blasio is doing the best he can to tackle the situation.


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