Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday accused former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of revisionist history, calling the Republican "delusional" for saying he helped homeless New Yorkers during his time in City Hall.
Giuliani in a New York Post column published Sunday said as mayor he found housing for those who had nowhere to live and provided services for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
He criticized de Blasio, a Democrat, for the increasingly visible homeless population. "Difficult, seemingly implacable human problems need even more determined interventions rather than repetitions of retrogressive, old-fashioned applications of left-wing guilt," Giuliani wrote.
De Blasio at an unrelated Brooklyn event Monday said Giuliani "in a delusional manner, presented some wonderland over which he governed in which he provided all sorts of wonderful, nurturing services for people."
But, he added, "It didn't happen that way." He said homelessness rose under Giuliani's watch.
Messages seeking comment, left with Giuliani's spokesman and his Manhattan law office, were not returned Monday. The former mayor, who served in the 1990s and was in office during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in his op-ed piece wrote of a hypothetical homeless person: "Under no circumstances would I leave him an option that does not and should not exist in a loving city -- a right to live on the streets."
De Blasio has acknowledged the homelessness crisis is "real," and said he is working to provide affordable apartments, mental health services and more.
The city's shelter population is now 59,000, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.
De Blasio pointed to an NBC New York interview last month in which Giuliani said his approach to the homeless was to "chase them out of the city." De Blasio said a call for empathy by Cardinal Timothy Dolan led to Giuliani's change of tone.
"This is really a tale of two Rudys," de Blasio said, evoking his "tale of two cities" campaign theme. "One who says he liked to chase people away and another who suddenly thinks he was nurturing to them."