ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo will sign an executive order on Sunday that will bring the homeless in out of the cold — and it’s mandatory.
Citing the risks of hypothermia and possible death, Cuomo will require communities — including New York City — to take the homeless who live outside to shelters when the mercury hits the freezing mark, the Daily News has learned.
If they refuse to go, the order, which goes into effect on Tuesday, calls for the involuntary taking of the homeless to shelters when the temperatures hit 32 degrees or below.
“We’re in a period now of the winter inclement weather,” Cuomo told The News. “It’s dangerous for homeless people to be on the streets.”
Though Cuomo insists he is looking for a uniformed statewide standard to deal with homelessness, the order could add more flames to the simmering feud between the governor and Mayor de Blasio.
Without specifically singling out New York City, Cuomo’s executive order notes that “certain parts of the state are facing a crisis of homelessness unprecedented in recent history.”
Obviously this is aimed at the de Blasio administration, which has struggled with the numbers of homeless on the streets the past few years.
And in case there's any doubt of that, well, there was this "anonymous" dig:
A Cuomo aide recently said the de Blasio administration “can’t manage the homeless crisis.”
De Blaiso put some of the blame on the state and says he's got a plan to deal with the problem:
The mayor has said the city’s homeless crisis got worse after Cuomo cut a $68 million rental assistance program in 2011. After talks for a joint effort failed, the mayor recently announced a $2.6 billion, 15-year city plan to create 15,000 apartments that would cater mainly to people with mental illness and substance abuse problems.
Currently the city has a "Code Blue" protocol when temperatures hit freezing, with the city doubling down on the outreach to homeless people on the streets and letting people into shelters without the usual intake process.
But the city does not force people off the streets when it hits freezing.
Now they'll have to.
This is just another gin-up in the battle with de Blasio.
Cuomo doesn't actually care about homeless people or the mentally ill.
If he did, he wouldn't have cut funding for a rental subsidy program that kept people from, you know being homeless or threaten to eliminate state funds for homeless shelters (as he did this summer.)
He does care about one-upping de Blasio and making him look as weak and ineffectual as possible.
That's what's going on here.
The state is supposed to provide more resources for municipalities struggling with homelessness as part of Cuomo's mandate, but that remains to be seen.
Often promised monies fail to cover newly imposed mandates and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that is the case here.
And then there's the constitutional issue - is it legal to round people up and force them into shelters if they don't want to go?
Cuomo says it's fine and dandy:
Asked about whether such a move violates civil rights, Cuomo said case law is on his side.
“It’s not even a close call in my opinion or my counsel’s opinion,” he said.
“What we’re saying is these are people who are placing themselves in danger, and if you are placing yourself in danger, we believe as a society you should be given help because you can hurt yourself,” he said. “That is the premise to this action.”
Lots of actions fall under Cuomo's "People who are placing themselves in danger" premise - including smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol to excess or eating foods that are not healthy for you.
Shouldn't those activities be regulated under Cuomo's premise as well?
Enough with the bullshit from Cuomo - he needs to stop trying to one-up de Blasio, work with municipalities struggling with homelessness (not just NYC, btw - homelessness has "exploded" statewide since the recession, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy), and provide more state resources to deal with the problems instead of cutting them.
In addition, he needs to take responsibility for adding to the problem by cutting state funds to programs that helped alleviate homelessness (like the rental subsidy program), as well as pointing fingers at others for contributing to the problem.
That's what an adult would do.
But Andrew Cuomo is a man-child and so this new "Homeless Off The Streets" mandate is as much about him as it is about solving a vexing social problem.
Preetmas can't come soon enough.
Then maybe we'll see Cuomo himself taken "involuntarily" off the streets.