De Blasio swings back at Cuomo with letter seeking aid to help New York City’s homeless

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio exit after delivering remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York State in Manhattan borough of New York City, New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are at it again — this time over how the city’s responding to homelessness.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Still seething over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s remarks earlier this week that New York City appeared to be “teetering” on disaster, Mayor Bill de Blasio threw the case back at the governor Saturday, urging him to support the city’s efforts to tackle homelessness rather than undermine it through budget cuts.

During his March 3 press briefing, Cuomo rebuffed calls from some elected officials to resign over the wave of scandals that struck him, specifically the sexual harassment allegations made by three women. The governor claimed he was respecting the wishes of the voters, rather than the politicians, but then pivoted to say there was too much left for him to do.

“We have a full plate. We have COVID, we have recovery, we have rebuilding,” Cuomo said on March 3. “We have a teetering New York City. We have a terrible financial picture.” 

That statement, and a follow-up remark in which Cuomo referenced high homelessness rates in New York City, struck a chord with de Blasio. The mayor said on March 4 that he felt Cuomo was “disrespectful” to the people of New York City while attempting to deflect from his own problems.

Now, on March 6, de Blasio announced that he sent a lengthy letter to Cuomo essentially calling the governor’s bluff.

He urged the governor to reverse “decades of disinvestment” and provide the proper funding needed to help finally address the ever-growing homelessness crisis in the five boroughs.

“While the number of New Yorkers in our shelters, particularly families, has actually decreased significantly — contrary to your claim this week that homelessness has increased — these New Yorkers in need are facing historic challenges,” de Blasio wrote to Cuomo. “For a decade, state leadership has cut resources that keep New Yorkers in their homes, and the most recent budget proposal is on track to do more of the same. We need you to go. beyond simply calling for deployment of law enforcement, and instead take the following substantive steps to address the underlying needs of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.”

De Blasio called on Cuomo to boost state rental assistance for New Yorkers to meet the Fair Market Rent (FMR) levels as set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — the federal agency which Cuomo previously led during the Cuomo administration.

The mayor also urged Cuomo to fully fund efforts to create supportive housing for vulnerable homeless New Yorkers who suffer from specific mental and physical health needs; restore the state’s traditional 50/50 cost split for various homeless services provided in New York City; increasing the state Medicaid cap to support mobile treatment programs; reverse Medicaid rate cuts; and release $100 million in Affordable Care Act funding owed to New York City through the Medicaid program.

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