Mayor slammed over comments on 'pleasurable' homeless shelters
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was criticized by activists for the homeless Thursday after saying city residents were spending longer periods in shelters because it was a "more pleasurable experience" than in the past.
Bloomberg, in responding to a Wall Street Journal report that homeless families with children had spent 30% more time in shelters last year than in the prior year, credited improvements in the city's shelters, calling their condition under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani "an abomination."
"We have made our shelter system so much better that, unfortunately, when people are in it, or, fortunately, depending on what your objective is, it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before," he said during an unrelated news conference Thursday.
"We are not letting anybody sleep on the streets," he added. "If we can get them into shelter, we do and we make sure that shelter is as good as practical to provide"
Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, called Bloomberg's comments "shocking and offensive."
"His failed policies are the major factor leading to the record shelter population this summer," Brosnahan said in a statement. "Blaming homeless families and suggesting they are luxuriating in 'pleasurable' accommodations shows just how badly the mayor is out of touch."
The coalition and Bloomberg have faced off in the past over housing for the homeless. The group has pushed Bloomberg to steer the city's homeless into low-income housing, which the mayor has said is not cost-efficient or feasible.
Bloomberg spokeswoman Samantha Levine said the city's street homelessness has dropped by more than 25% since 2005.
"It is indisputable that the shelter system has undergone a full transformation and it is a vastly better system that offers those who have fallen on hard times a more supportive option than the City had ever offered before," she said in an email.