NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new proposal to force City Hall to build more apartments for the homeless ignited a battle between City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday.
Advocates took to the steps of City Hall with a clear-cut message for the man who runs the show, holding posters showing their disdain for his policies.
With winter coming and nearly 61,000 people living in shelters, the homeless and advocate groups came to support a new bill requiring that 15 percent of apartments built with city subsidies be earmarked for the homeless.
The Bronx Councilman Rafael Salamanca-sponsored bill’s target is the mayor’s 300,000 affordable housing plan.
“Homelessness in New York City has reached the highest level since the Great Depression in the 1930s,” Salamanca said. “Is this the legacy that you, Mister Mayor, want to leave behind?”
Nathylin Flowers Adesegun, 72, said she wanted the mayor to understand what her life is like living in one of his shelters.
“I have a curfew every night, I share a bedroom, I can’t eat the food or cook the food I want to eat,” she said. “Having toilet paper rationed, parcelled out to me.”
She spoke out just weeks after she unsuccessfully tried to confront de Blasio about his homeless policies while he worked out at the gym. A spokesperson for the mayor said he does not support the proposed bill.
“The Mayor’s housing plan must balance the need for quick solutions with long-term approaches that also help low and middle-income New Yorkers afford their city,” the spokesperson said, adding, “it’s a delicate equation we think we’re getting right.”
Former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who now runs a shelter program, points out that most people in shelters are children who stay for at least 15 months.
“If you’re six-years-old, you’re likely to spend a quarter of your life in a shelter, and that isn’t right,” Quinn said.
Current Speaker Corey Johnson says he strongly supports the goal of forcing the city to make more apartments available for the homeless. If it does pass, the mayor will have to either swallow hard and sign it or veto it and hurt the progressive image he’s worked so hard to cultivate.