Editorial: The city continues to fail its most vulnerable residents

A homeless man sleeps as a Q train passes on Dec. 20, 2005.
File photo

City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted City Hall on Oct. 21 with a report that demonstrated just how much our government has failed to protect the most vulnerable people who live here.

According to Stringer, the number of domestic violence victims living in the city’s family shelter system has spiked by 44 percent over the last five years. These survivors now account for 41 percent of the family shelter population in this city. 

But worse than that, Stringer’s report found that the city isn’t doing nearly enough to help these victims — who have already been through horrible situations — get back on their feet.

The city limits the stay of victims in crisis shelters to 180 days; if they can’t find proper, permanent housing for these victims, they are sent to another shelter.

Stringer also said the housing vouchers offered to these survivors aren’t anywhere close financially to what’s needed to help them afford sky-high rents in this city.

None of this should surprise any of us, at this point. The past decade has seen an unprecedented rise in homelessness matched by evidence of a city government either too overwhelmed, too inadequate or too apathetic to meet this challenge.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan has proven to be as useful as shoveling sand into the ocean during high tide. Communities across the city are still fighting proposed shelters tooth and nail — partly because of NIMBYism, true, but the size and scope of these shelters (potentially housing hundreds) is indeed cause for serious concern. The subways are riddled with homeless people sleeping on benches or amid filthy train cars.

It’s galling and shameful that the people we elected to run this city can’t figure out what to do to help those in the most need. We’re supposed to be the most progressive city in America with policies designed not to leave anyone behind from economic opportunity and a better life.

And yet, here we are with a City Hall utterly incapable of finding a domestic violence victim and their children a decent place to live in peace and rebuild their lives.

It’s enough to move you to tears. We only wish it would move City Hall to action.