The Coalition for the Homeless, a leading advocate for homeless people in New York City, claims the number of homeless New Yorkers in 2013 exceeds 50,000 and is comparable to Great Depression numbers. Visible street homelessness represents only a small portion of this figure. A new feature by Ian Frazier for the New Yorker details the program assistance available to homeless New Yorkers and the deteriorating situation under the Bloomberhg Mayorship.
The families lining up at PATH, and the single adult men at their intake point, in the Bellevue Men’s Shelter, on East Thirtieth Street, and the single adult women at the women’s intake at the help women’s shelter, on Williams Avenue, in Brooklyn: from a legal standpoint, these people are not asking for charity. They are exercising a right. Since 1938, the right to shelter has been implicit among the rights guaranteed by the constitution of the State of New York (though court action had to confirm it). No other city or state in America offers this right as solidly and unambiguously as does New York. Advocates love the right to shelter. Most mayors hate it. Referring to it on one of his weekly radio shows last March, Mayor Bloomberg urged the city’s taxpayers “to call their representatives in Albany and say, ‘We ain’t gonna do this anymore.’ ”
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