Did you know that New York City has a Department of Homeless Services?
Well, they do. And it’s budget isn’t a few million or even a hundred million dollars. It’s $2.06 billion.
Perhaps you don’t find anything wrong with this. Though opinion likely falls on both sides of the debate, there is no denying that New York’s massive population of 61,421 homeless individuals – a mass which has rivaled or surpassed those living in Depression-era Hoovervilles – requires some sort of attention, both for their sake and for the good of the non-homeless residents of the city. In all, approximately 76,000 New Yorkers either reside on the streets or in some sort of shelter, and that number continues to grow.
Still, New Yorkers who pay sky-high rent prices and are taxed out the wazoo as it is have their limits when it comes to charity. At some point, the states and cities that spend and spend and spend on homeless services ultimately end up with the largest homeless populations. It is no coincidence.
Be warned that these figures are likely rounded to the lowest possible denominator. San Francisco, with just under 7,000 homeless in 2017, spent a city-record $241 million on homeless in 2016. Shelter costs for homeless in the city costs $167 million alone, an average of $458,000 per day. And still, the homeless population in the city continues to skyrocket while most remain on the streets, a sure sign that most of that tax money supposedly going to the homeless isn’t getting there.
Los Angeles is the city with the second largest population of homeless people in the united states – there are at least 55,000 of them. This year, the city’s Board of Supervisors approved a $402 million spending plan to “fight against homelessness”.
L.A. and New York City, 1 and 2 in terms of homeless resident populations, are miles ahead of Seattle, the third-ranking bastion of destitution. Keep in mind that L.A. is home to at least 55,188 homeless. Seattle’s official count cites 11,643 homeless living within its city limits. New York City, the homeless capital of America, has the dubious distinction of being home to 76,501 individuals living without a permanent address. And, accordingly, New York City spends far more than any other city on their Department of Homeless Services.
In April, New York mayor Bill de Blasio proposed an $89.6 billion fiscal budget which included a $386 million bump(!) in spending for homeless services. That would bring the total amount of New Yorkers’ tax dollars spent on the homeless in the City to a projected $2.06 billion.
Everybody can get behind a reasonable level of charity and goodwill, but holy smokes. For perspective, the beloved New York Fire Department receives $2.04 billion. That’s right, the homeless in New York are allotted more total resources than the firefighters.
Worse yet, the massive jump in homeless spending appears to be willfully inflated, as the mayor has adopted a policy of moving the homeless out of “poorly kept” apartments into hotels, a plan which will cost at least $1.1 billion over the next three years, or $364 million per year. Because the great majority of hotel rooms won’t have kitchens and other essential appliances, the city will have to spend more to provide outside support services, including the purchase of refrigerators and microwaves.
Begging the question: what kind of apartments would de Blasio prefer for the otherwise homeless? A penthouse in Trump Tower?
Well, yes, if he could swing it that’s exactly how de Blasio would have it. Wealthy out, homeless in, all on the taxpayer dime.
Making matters even more concerning for New Yorkers is the fact that de Blasio has refused to provide actual financial specifics about the Homeless Hotel plan, all the while maintaining that massive taxation and spending figures will be “offset with future savings” and that the plan is “temporary”.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, outraged that de Blasio’s representatives say they are “constantly updating and re-estimating our costs” and therefore “can’t” provide the council with more accurate cost estimates, all but stated that the spending on the Department of Homeless Services is a blatant tool for pocket-lining by public officials.
“We keep investing more and more money and the shelter population continues to either remain the same or go up a little bit or go down a little bit,” Johnson said.
“We haven’t seen a huge decrease in the number of homeless individuals, so it’s concerning to the Council that we keep adding hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis and but we haven’t seen a significant decrease in the homeless population.” (NY Post)
In other words, statistics show that the homeless population isn’t going ensuring that more homeless ultimately end up in shelters, and no other significant impact can be seen with respect to decreasing homelessness, so how is a $364 million annual boost in homeless spending justifiable?
The truth is, the de Blasio administration can’t justify the boost, and that’s precisely why they aren’t providing the City Council with any financials that would make sense of the massive spending increase.
It doesn’t make sense.
In 2016, the city spent $102 million on hotel rooms for the homeless. Now, the city is expanding their homeless budget further to the tune of $364 million, and cites the cost for shelters as $169 million. That would presumably leave $195 million from the budget increase alone for hotels, which added to the previous expenditures of $102 million is $297 million on Homeless Hotels.
In addition to de Blasio’s five-year plan (remind you of somebody?) to create 90 homeless shelters across five boroughs, you ultimately end up with an exorbitant amount spent on housing the homeless who, by the way, will technically become not homeless under de Blasio’s plan to spend until, apparently, nobody is living on the streets of New York.
Which won’t happen, as we all know. There will be plenty of homeless on the streets of New York, even when de Blasio’s vision is “complete”. Which it never will be. Because that would mean less spending, and fewer multi-hundred-million-dollar budget hikes. Which is precisely the point of this whole charade.
Such massive spending has to show results, otherwise charges of corruption will inevitably arise. That is what City Council Speaker Johnson was alluding to: all this spending, yet we still see eons of homeless on the streets, and little to no change in the shelter population.
So, where is the $2 billion-plus in annual spending really going, if not to implementing real solutions?
Only high-ranking individuals in the de Blasio administration can know that. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time de Blasio, his administration, his associates or donors have faced allegations of, let’s say, ethical negligence.
Or the second time. Or the third. Or the fourth.
You get the picture.
But, just like the budget on homeless hotel spending, you can bet your bottom dollar that they ain’t telling. If you believe all of this spending is going where it is purported to, I have a homeless high rise on Park Avenue for sale that I’d love to discuss with you.