Can Bill de Blasio turn the public tide against homelessness?

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative Turning the Tide Against Homelessness calls for 90 homeless shelters designed to decrease the city’s reliance on renting hotel rooms for homeless people. Part of the initiative’s emphasis is keeping families’ social networks in place and therefore building shelters in all boroughs. Framed as an “overhaul of how and where the City shelters homeless New Yorkers” the plan emphasizes finding locations so shelter residents are closer to the social networks with the goal of giving “families and individuals continue to live near the neighborhoods they called home, in a clean and safe environment, while receiving the assistance they need to get back on their feet” (“Turning the Tide Against Homelessness,” 78). Moreover,  the plan also focuses on gaining the cooperation and input from residents and businesses in the neighborhoods proposed to receive a shelter.

And yet residents don’t seem so pleased at least in this video provided by NY1 of residents at on such community board meeting – click through to see the video and a very provocative comparison!

[Source: “Wealthy Neighbors Pack Community Board Meeting to Oppose Planned Homeless Shelter on ‘Billionaire’s Row,'” NY1 (Feb. 8, 2018)]

That such meetings like the one in the video embedded is a key part of Blasio’s strategy and departs from the city’s previous approaches to public housing and development. Yet an article from The Guardian includes several quotes from residents such as this one from Helen Caputi who opposes a shelter at the address 158 West 158th St.:

“I think de Blasio is trying to score points,” said Helen Caputi, who was walking her dog on the corner of 58th Street and 7th Avenue. “The people here are uppity, they don’t like it. I’m for helping the homeless people, but I think they could have placed the shelter elsewhere.”

I found the link and video in a blog post by the conservative writer Rod Dreher. In his post, Dreher compares the residents’ comments to the comments attributed to President Trump and “shithole” countries attributed to President Trump:

Remember how horrified liberals were when President Trump’s vulgar remark about not wanting people from “shithole” countries as immigrants was reported?

… I’d bet you my next paycheck that every one of those wealthy Manhattanites is a liberal — it’s easier to find a drag queen in Branson than a Republican on the West Side (people named “Podhoretz” excluded), who utterly deplores Trump. Especially for his shithole remark. But when it comes to moving the poorest of the poor into their neighborhood, well for heaven’s sake, darling, keep the shithole people at bay.

What did you think of the video? Do you think Dreher’s comparison is accurate? Given the class discussion about social trust, community building, and public housing, does this video make you think twice about public/private partnerships? Do the residents’ complaints make you more sympathetic or understanding of Robert Moses’ approach to building (no input from the public)?
There’s so much to unpack in this video and I would love to hear your first impressions, extended thoughts – in fact,  it would make a great object lesson for someone’s upcoming post!

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