November 3, 2009 @ 4:29 pm
From Jillian Jonas, freelance journalist and former national political analyst for U.P.I.:
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg approached the end of his first term in 2004 with his eye toward re-election in 2005, the administration was able to momentarily turn away from the city’s economic turmoil. Bloomberg began re-examining some of New York’s social service policies, putting fighting poverty and homelessness at the top of his list.
In June 2004, Bloomberg announced an ambitious five-year plan called “Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter” with the goal of tackling the complex questions of homelessness — particularly ending chronic homelessness within 10 years — and cutting the homeless population by two-thirds. “At its heart, this new plan aims to replace the city’s over-reliance on shelter with innovative, cost-effective interventions that solve homelessness — and to make visible headway in reducing homelessness on the streets and in shelters,” said the mayor.
To be sure, there have been bumps along the way: controversial moves offering homeless individuals one-way tickets out-of-town or enforcing a never utilized Pataki-era state law charging homeless families for their shelter stay. There also was an extremely unpopular attempt to move a Manhattan intake shelter to Brooklyn. And, at a recent Working Families Party mayoral forum, media reports quoted Bloomberg as saying New York’s homeless find shelters “a lot more attractive” than “permanent living situations.”
But more significantly, Bloomberg’s lofty goals have not materialized. In fact, rather than cutting the population by two-thirds, the administration has seen homelessness increase substantially.
[See the rest of the story at Gotham Gazette]