Monday, March 09, 2009

Homeless Problem In NYC Is Larger Than Bloomberg's Counters Care To Admit

At the end of the week I heard about the report from the city that there was a substantial drop in the number of the homeless living on the streets of Gotham. Immediately it sounded like a substantial amount of BS, so I waited a couple of days until I saw a follow up report on what is really going on in terms of the actual street homeless problem we face. Simply put, a 30% drop in the population is wholly unrealistic. The "official" homeless count of 2,328 presented by Mr. Hess from the DHS is even more incredulous than the drop.

From the NYT Cityroom:

The total of 2,328 people counted in the survey, Mr. Hess said, is “a far cry from the 4,395 that we first counted in 2005.”

Not a chance, responded the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group in New York.

“The numbers released by the city today defy credibility and run counter to what New Yorkers observe every day on New York’s streets,” Mary Brosnahan, the executive director, said in a statement. “The Bloomberg administration is claiming that there is the same number of homeless people in New York City as in San Diego — a city with one sixth of New York’s population. Looked at over a four-year period the city is arguing it has cut street homelessness in half. Do New Yorkers really think there are half as many homeless people on our streets as four years ago?”
We certainly do not, unless you live at Gracie Mansion an expanding 17 E. 79th St. it is extremely difficult to not gauge our city's homeless problem as either staying the same or increasing. Even Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs knows better than to just sweep this problem under the rug:

“You know, this is a little bit counterintuitive,” said Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs, who oversees homeless programs. “How is it that, in this economy, with everything that’s going on and all the need we see, with the recession, the loss of jobs, the instability in the housing market — how is it that we can see such a dramatic drop, a 30 percent drop, in street homelessness this year compared to last?”
We already know academia thinks these things are hooey. One of the city's spokesmen tried backpedaling after the response from advocates of the homeless and scientists who would have preferred to use a scientific methodology for counting those that live on the streets. I don't know if they answered Ms. Gibbs' question, but I will.

The reason we see such a drop is that the Mayor (and/or his Administration) wants to see that drop, whether it is real or imaginary. The "progress" he shows is a part of his business model for the city, so that the shareholders voters are more amenable to leaving him in charge for another four years. In that lies the ultimate problem, that Bloomberg runs the city as a business, and not like a city that its' citizens, whether they be homeless or not, deserve.