NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As New York City’s homeless population continues to rise, the debate over how to handle the problem is getting even more fired up.
Last summer, we reported that the De Blasio administration was developing a proposal to open up New York homeless shelters throughout the city as part of his “Turning the Tide” initiative.
For the plan, the Department of Homeless Services and the mayor have scouted out various neighborhoods including Ozone Park and Rockaway Park.
Councilman Eric Ulrich represents Ozone Park and various other sections of Brooklyn and Queens.
Ulrich helped hold a rally against the mayor’s plan last month, and says the city’s Department of Homeless Services and its commissioner Steven Banks need to develop a new plan that addresses the root cause of homelessness in New York City.
Ulrich stopped by CBSN New York to discuss the matter.
“If you look at the fact that homelessness right now in the city of New York is at an all-time high, well over 60,000 men, women and children are registered in our shelter system. This administration has failed to put forward real solutions that address the root causes of homelessness in this city, namely poverty and the lack of affordable housing, the targets that the mayor says he has failed to meet,” Ulrich said. “What we need, now more than ever, is to reinstate a real and robust rental subsidy program like we used to have with the section 8 program, to help people offset the cost of their rent so they don’t have to enter the shelter system, so they don’t become homeless.”
Ulrich said de Blasio has been “completely MIA” and has “delusions of grandeur” and is focused on a possible run for president instead of managing the homelessness situation.
“He’s delusional. Someone needs to make him wake up to the fact that we need him in the city addressing the problems here in the city,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich said the plan to build more shelters is like addressing an increase in crime by building more jails. Ulrich is planning on holding a protest Monday night in front Banks’ home.
“It’s not personal. The fact is that Steve Banks has done an abysmal job. He should be fired, quite frankly. Look at the numbers: Almost 20,000 increase in homelessness. Whatever the commissioner is doing, it’s not working,” Ulrich said. “He has to resign or he should be fired.”
“Protesting public servants at their homes may be good grandstanding, but it does nothing to help homeless people. Commissioner Banks does more for homeless New Yorkers in a day than Council member Ulrich has done his entire career,” said Jacklyn Rotherberg, a spokesperson for de Blasio.
“Steve Banks and his pals in the nonprofits that are making millions of dollars off the misery and suffering of people who have fallen on hard times. They are a bunch of poverty pimps in this city, and the mayor is perfectly fine with that,” Ulrich said.
“While the Council member grandstands, we‘re busy helping people get back on their feet through a prevention-first borough-based approach, shrinking our footprint, connecting more than 109,000 New Yorkers to permanent housing, and driving evictions down 37 percent citywide to unprecedented lows,” said Department of Homeless Services spokesperson Isaac McGinn. “That’s what real leadership looks like, in case the Council member missed it during his tantrum. We’re here to partner when he’s ready to work.”