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A stick in the eye for NYC’s homeless people

Homelessness remains one of NYC’s most intractable problems — and it requires serious solutions.

A person sleeping on a New York City

A person sleeping on a New York City sidewalk. Photo Credit: Newsday / Viorel Florescu

Homelessness remains one of NYC’s most intractable problems — and it requires serious solutions.

The latest City Council bill to address the issue doesn’t even come close. Councilman Eric Ulrich last week introduced legislation to require hotels to post signs when individuals who are homeless stay there, and to include that information in “all forms of advertising.”

Perhaps next, Ulrich would want hotels to advertise that they allow minority guests, or guests with low incomes, or high incomes, or families with eight kids or, perhaps, politicians like him. Ridiculous? Yes.

Nearly 60,000 homeless people sleep in NYC shelters each night. About 1,500 are from Ulrich’s district in south Queens, which includes Ozone Park, Breezy Point and Howard Beach. To provide shelter, NYC uses hotels. City officials have promised to end the practice once they’ve built enough permanent housing and new shelters. Until they do, hundreds of New Yorkers are housed in six hotels in Ulrich’s district alone.

None of that matters to the councilman, a Republican who considered running against Mayor Bill de Blasio but instead endorsed former NYPD Det. Bo Dietl.

Ulrich has been critical of de Blasio for using hotels to shelter homeless families. But his proposal isn’t about transparency, as he claims. At best, it’s an unfortunate political ploy likely meant to force hotels to stop accepting homeless individuals. At worst, it is an ugly and unjust way to stick a label on the most needy New Yorkers.

It’s unfortunate that Ulrich’s City Council colleagues, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, have been silent on his effort. They should speak out against the legislation, which has been sent to committee for consideration.

Meanwhile, Ulrich seems happy just to find another way to fight the mayor. His statement on the bill highlighted the notion that “It is going to be a big stick in the eye . . .” to de Blasio.

It’s also a big stick in the eye for tens of thousands of homeless individuals who need the city’s assistance and care. And that hurts us all.


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