The homeless population has risen to an all-time high, forcing the de Blasio administration to house desperate families in decrepit tenements red-flagged by the city’s own inspectors as hazardous.
Since he arrived at City Hall pledging to turn things around, Mayor de Blasio has struggled to confront a long-intractable problem that has only gotten worse.
By mid-December, the homeless census reached a record 59,068 — nearly the population of Utica, city records show. The Coalition for the Homeless says it peaked even higher at 60,352.
The homeless count, according to the city and the coalition, includes 25,000 children. And it represents a 10% jump from the 53,615 in shelters on de Blasio’s Inauguration Day.
To reduce these distressing numbers, the city has tried to move families into scarce permanent housing, but has been forced to continue using much-criticized apartments known as “cluster sites.”
As a candidate, de Blasio vowed to end the use of clusters, which were often cited for outrageous code violations such as collapsed ceilings, lead paint, vermin and busted boilers.
Despite the mayor’s wishes, the city actually increased the number of cluster units in 2014 by nearly 8% — from 2,918 to 3,143. The 225-unit jump was far less than the 1,150 cluster units Bloomberg added in his last two years, but critics were hoping for a total turnaround.