NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of homeless New Yorkers marched on Gracie Mansion on Wednesday to pressure Mayor Bill de Blasio to build more permanent housing for those who can least afford it.
With winter approaching and the number of homeless still at near-record levels, advocates and those without permanent lodging marched and rallied to remind the mayor that he holds the key to solving the problem, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“I am presently homeless and I need the mayor to hear us,” Felix Guzman said. “We are faced with a problem that has divided the whole city between the haves and the have nots.”
“The homeless community is sick and tired of these ridiculous things that the mayor is doing,” said Deborah Dickerson of the advocacy group Picture The Homeless. “You live in this mansion right here and your children are provided for. Our children are in the shelter system sleeping and not getting enough to eat.”
“I have been homeless now for four years. I am constantly searching for housing,” said Charisma White of the group Urban Pathways.
The homeless and advocacy groups say there is no excuse in a city like New York for people to be sleeping on the street or in train stations. They want the mayor to commit to building 30,000 units of affordable housing, 24,000 units through new construction.
“Everybody else is on board with this campaign. We’ve got 59 organizations, the public advocate, the comptroller, four borough presidents, 26 council members. The only person we’re missing is the mayor,” said Giselle Routhier of the Coalition for the Homeless.
“The mayor says he’s comfortable with his approach, but his approach will reduce homelessness by 3,500 people in five years. That’s not enough. We have to make the mayor uncomfortable in his approach — 62,000 homeless people are not comfortable,” added Marc Greenberg, the executive director of the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness.
A De Blasio spokesperson contends the mayor is doing a lot to deal with the problem.
“This mayor has the most aggressive affordable housing and homeless plans in city history. We’ve helped more than 100,000 people avoid or move out of shelters with housing assistance,” the spokesperson said.
This is definitely not the last word. The homeless advocates are planning another demonstration at City Hall on Halloween morning, Kramer reported.