Friday, June 05, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We agree with the NY Daily News that housing the homeless in so-called luxury digs is nuts: "The shelter-shock triggered by housing homeless families in a luxury Brooklyn condo reveals nothing so much as the gargantuan lengths the city goes to in providing shelter to the dispossessed.It also shows why the city must have the authority to turn people away from shelter who are not truly homeless, as well as the power to force those in the system to get out and into their own apartments."

What the News fails to say, however, so consumed as they are with constantly editorializing against the excesses of municipal labor, is that the homeless provider system is simply another example of how New York government provides certain services that are too expensive and costly to the over burdened city tax payers: "Day in, day out, families turn to New York's $750 million-a-year shelter system. Many are in dire straits, but many see the chance of getting better living conditions by claiming homelessness. And what could be better than temporary digs in a building with marble bathrooms and walk-in closets? Designed to sell for $350,000 each before the economic meltdown, the units went begging. So the owner took in the homeless for the standard rate of $90 a night."

This is similar to the costly unwed mother housing, a $433 million a year bonanza that the city so nicely makes available to new young mothers looking to get out of the house and into nicer apartments of their own. As Heather McDonald pointed out last year: "To put that $433 million in perspective, it's nearly a third of the $1.5 billion in spending cuts that Bloomberg proposed last week and almost twice as much as the cost of the $400 dollar property-tax rebate that the mayor wants to eliminate. That property-tax rebate - costing $256 million annually - helps hundreds of thousands of hard-working New Yorkers. The $433 million for the "homeless" family-housing program goes to a mere 8,800 families, or .34 percent of the city population. On average, those 8,800 families cost taxpayers $31,000 annually per family"

And Bloomberg (the man who claims that we need his expertise in the midst of the current economic downturn) fights the city council over the homeowner rebate plan, with a tenacity that purports to represent fiscal discipline, but remains silent when it comes to these kinds of housing boondoggles that force more money from the beleaguered taxpayers-further evidence that his almost eight year tenure is one of a series of missed opportunities to trim the size and cost of New York's government.

So we applaud the News for pointing this particular government nuttiness out; but the obvious elephant in the room is left unnoticed by the sharp minds over on 33rd Street-the fact that it is their champion, the undisputed indispensable man, that continues to allow these kinds of outrageous municipal services to spawn and grow under his watch. No innovation from the mayor that would help save tax payers money. We've been waiting eight years for even a tiny whiff of this but, alas, the sign over at City Hall now reads: Big Government Business as Usual.