By George Capsis
On NY1 a very intense Mark Peters, the city’s Commissioner of Investigation, was cataloguing the horrors in the city homeless shelters as revealed in a study ordered by Bill de Blasio—vermin, pools of urine, and festering dead rats.
Outraged by the situation, I tried to get the commissioner’s office or the Coalition for the Homeless to answer some questions, but met with no success. They kept repeating “it’s all in the 54 page report.”
Homelessness might seem simple on the surface. The root cause of homelessness, though, is often anything but simple: domestic violence, job loss and mental illness are just some of the complex underlying problems. And this last one, mental illness, is the worst, people who have lost their minds do not know they are out in the killing cold—these are the people who sleep in the streets and never even think about going to a shelter.
In January the homeless population hit a peak—60,670. The Coalition for Homeless is now demanding that 2,500 apartments a year be built for the homeless and at least 10% of de Blasio’s goal to build 200,000 apartments in the next ten years be set aside for those who cannot pay a market rent or, in many cases, any rent at all.
Since 1981, a Coalition lawsuit has obligated the city and the state to provide shelter to those who are homeless by reason of poverty or due to mental, physical, or social dysfunction. New York is the only city in the United States in which this is the law. My only question is, do they all need to be in downtown Manhattan? It seems a disproportionate number of homeless are being housed in shelters in Manhattan.
De Blasio wants to change the zoning so he can build tall, skinny skyscraper apartment buildings with tiny, tiny apartments four hundred square feet or less (He uses the euphemistic “tall and dense.”)
I argue that the city and state should build these free apartments in the outer boroughs—where land is much cheaper and we still have some trees and you can walk to the sea. I also argue that the city and state should build a retirement colony in Florida.
We need to keep the best of the old city as we have in the West Village. We need to build large apartments in low rise buildings and build on a human scale—we do not want New York to become Avatar City.
And the next politician that is convicted for taking bribes should be sentenced to live in the shelter with the dead festering rat.