Read this Times’ article from the other day about landlords making money from housing the homeless and think about it. There’s something very wrong with this picture.
How New York City manages its homeless population is abysmal and really no city does a decent job. The homeless are one of the easiest groups not to give a damn about. They have no money or political power so they’re not of major importance in the greater scheme of things. People do feel bad for the population, but do not act on that emotion. I believe that the majority of the people do not care. They do not want to see the homeless on the street and when they do the first response is not to help, but to complain to the city to remove them. The homeless are people and should be treated as such. They are people who need help.
The city’s Department of Homeless Services does try. As with all government agencies, it is hampered by lack of funds, a growing crisis in homelessness, and political policies that make no sense.
First, spending on social services gets less and less every year. What can a agency do when it does not have the funds?
Two, the homeless population is growing. There are many reasons for this that I will not go into. I will point out that the city did contribute do this by canceling its voucher program Advantage causing thousands to get evicted.
Three, Mayor Bloomberg does not understand the poor. This is a man who believes that working at a fast food joint can lift a single mother out of poverty. The city government is more concerned with the bad publicity of tourists seeing a homeless man hanging out at a corner than showing him the necessary compassion to help the individual.
Is there mismanagement in the department? Yes. As the article shows, the agency did not do the proper due diligence when picking SRO landlords and a social service provider. If the landlord is not providing safe and sanitary conditions then they should lose their contract. The issue it seems is that with this particular landlord that the agency has a long relationship with and they are not going to jeopardize that. Are they overpaying the man? Yes.
The solution? There is no simple solution. These are problems that involved a multifaceted approach.