By DAN MACLEOD
Even wealthy can crash at shelters: Mike
Bill Gates would probably prefer the Waldorf.
Mayor Bloomberg yesterday put his foot in his mouth by suggesting homeless shelters are bursting at the seams because anyone can get a bed — even the filthy rich.
“You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system, walk in the door, and we’ve got to give you shelter,” the billionaire mayor fumed on his weekly WOR radio show.
“That’s what the law is. I didn’t write the law.”
He was referring to a decree signed by Mayor Ed Koch 30 years ago that gives free shelter to anyone who says they need it.
“It’s pretty ludicrous to claim that there are people flying in private jets and taking private limos to the shelter system,” said Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless.
“He didn’t seem to want to take responsibility for the fact that there are more than 50,000 people sleeping in city shelters, including 21,000 children.”
City Comptroller John Liu piled on.
“Only an out-of-touch mayor who travels by private jet and limo would make such a tone-deaf wisecrack about a homeless crisis that has only worsened under his careless watch,” said Liu, a likely mayoral candidate.
The city Department of Homeless Services admitted it is required to accept any single adult who claims to need shelter.
“Litigation, supported by Coalition for the Homeless, has prevented the city from implementing a reasonable screening process for determining if single adults seeking shelter have other available housing or financial means to obtain it,” said Commissioner Seth Diamond.
The mayor said getting people out of shelters is harder since the state axed a program that provided temporary subsidies for private housing.
“That program went away. So we’re having trouble moving people out of the shelter system,” he said. “The good news is there’s fewer people coming in, but there’s nobody going out the door on the other side.”
The city is spending $819million this year to house the homeless, nearly 20 percent more than it did two years ago.