NYC Is Spending $1.2 Billion On Homelessness. So Why Is It Getting Worse?

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It’s a little-known fact that the City of New York is legally obliged to provide housing for those without it, but with the explosion in the city’s homeless population, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that.

The number of people staying in shelters in New York City has grown by over 10,000 since Mayor de Blasio took office to more than 60,000, with no relief in sight. There is no official estimate for those who are not in shelters, but needless to say the total number of homeless in the city is a great deal higher. After committing to a record $1.6 billion in spending to fight the problem, the city has seen no reduction in the number of people forced onto our streets. Needless to say, there is no shortage of disturbing facts about this issue, but a look at our city streets is all one needs to realize it’s getting worse. What’s absolutely clear by now is that it’s not simply a matter of money. How could the problem be getting worse when our Mayor has made such a public stance against it?

One reason for the growth in the homeless population is also a fundamental source of consternation for most New Yorkers over the past decade or so. It’s no secret that, nationwide, housing affordability is a major issue, and New York City is home to some of the most egregious examples of this. As neighborhoods transform, housing costs go up and many working-class residents end up being priced out to make room for new arrivals. As you go down the earnings line, those at the bottom too often end up homeless after losing their jobs, sometimes even while they are still working. As much as affordable housing is a political bargaining chip, there is still not nearly enough of it to satisfy the needs of lower-income New Yorkers.

The buck doesn’t stop at City Hall, either. Decision-makers in Albany have made their own contributions to the crisis, depriving vital programs of funding. A proposed complex of affordable apartments in Sunnyside, Queens was scuttled by Governor Cuomo, invoking his authority over the MTA, which owned the land. Even going back to Mayor Bloomberg, his cancellation of the Advantage program which provided homeless with housing vouchers was disposed of for claimed reasons that the system was being abused. Today, fewer programs are giving the homeless the help they need.

The programs that do exist are often woefully inadequate. The overcrowded shelter system, the main infrastructural source of help for the homeless, has long been an insufficient source of support for people in need, especially families. Many users of the system have described it as a claustrophobic, prison-like environment where violence is an entirely too common sight. New York Daily News research found that in 2015, there were over 1,500 “critical incidents” of violence and ill behavior in city shelters, more than five per day. It’s no wonder that many choose to take their chances on the street rather than be locked in with a potentially dangerous population. Staying on the street is often a rational choice to be made over taking on the deteriorating conditions in the shelters.

Another inadequate option is what’s called “cluster housing,” where the city rents apartments in low-income neighborhoods for homeless families. Instead of having access to a support system, these families are instead placed at the mercy of landlords who are, in general, not attuned to the needs of their new tenants and are simply collecting checks from the city. The danger of these sites was thrown into the spotlight last December with the tragic story of two sisters under the age of 3 killed by a faulty radiator in a cluster apartment in the Bronx. Hotel placement has been similarly dispiriting, with conditions that are not much better. To his credit, Mayor de Blasio has vowed to shut down these cluster sites, but progress is slow.

A particularly unfortunate aspect of this crisis has been the lack of empathy not just from political leaders, but the population at large. Anger over housing for the homeless has erupted in several neighborhood protests of proposed housing for the homeless, with demonstrations in Maspeth, Queens shutting down a shelter that would have housed up to 220 people. These demonstrators frequently argue that new shelters are merely a bandaid for the problem, but a main opposition seems to be a simple desire for their neighborhood to stay the way it is.

All of us share in the responsibility to help those who need it. It’s clear that a serious problem exists, with no clear solution. What we can all do is maintain awareness and make a commitment to advocate and provide assistance for the unfortunate who live in our city’s streets. Not everyone needs to spend a few cold nights on the street in order for the city to possess some empathy for the less fortunate. We’re all New Yorkers, and we all deserve the dignity and compassion that’s been lacking for so many.



Daniel Neiditch and River 2 River Realty Adds Ice Skating Rink to the Atelier Condo


Midtown condo building will be first in city with its own rooftop ice-skating rink

The board of the 46-story Atelier tower, on W. 42nd St. between 11th and 12th Aves., plans to install a rink on the terrace, which overlooks the Hudson River to the west and has views of the Empire State Building and Times Square. The building is known for its celebrity residents, who have included Lindsay Lohan, Ricky Martin and Brendan Fraser.

The outdoor lounge on the rooftop terrace of the Atelier building on W. 42nd St. will be transformed into a wrap-around ice rink this winter.

The outdoor lounge on the rooftop terrace of the Atelier building on W. 42nd St. will be transformed into a wrap-around ice rink this winter.

These New Yorkers won’t need to fight the crowds at Rockefeller Center if they want to slap on a pair of ice skates.

The board of a ritzy condo building on W. 42nd St. is planning to install an ice-skating rink on the roof of the property, the first of its kind in the city, board President Dan Neiditch told the Daily News.

Residents of the 46-story Atelier tower, between 11th and 12th Aves., will be able to skip the lines at public rinks this winter in favor of taking to the ice on their very own private terrace, which overlooks the Hudson River to the west and has views of the Empire State Building and Times Square.

'The outside space has always been wasted during the winter,' says Dan Neiditch, president of the condo board.
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“The outside space has always been wasted during the winter,” Neiditch said. “Now, you’ll be able to skate around while overlooking the city.”

Well, you won’t. But the wealthy condo owners will.

The building — which also has a tennis court, a basketball court and a swimming pool — is known for its celebrity residents, who have included Lindsay Lohan, Ricky Martin and Brendan Fraser.

A 10-bedroom apartment at the property is on the market for $85 million.

The 3,000-square-foot rink is slated to open Nov. 15 and will remain open through March.

Neiditch said he’s currently trying to persuade Olympic figure skater Gracie Gold to come to the rink’s grand opening, but, so far, it’s no dice.


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