Homeless New Yorkers gave the cold shoulder Sunday to Gov. Cuomo’s order that could force them off the streets when the temperature dips below freezing.
“Hell no, I won’t go to a shelter! How’s that even lawful? You can’t force people off a public street,” said Luis Diaz, 31, who was shivering with his girlfriend on a Midtown streetcorner as temps hovered in the mid-40s.
“It’s going to be crazy. They don’t have enough room. They don’t have the infrastructure to do this. Where are they going to put us? If they’re shoving us in shelters with crazies and people who can’t handle being in there, there is going to be a lot of fights. We’re safer out here.”
“I feel violated by this,” added William Sanders, 45, who said he considered it “cruel and unusual punishment” to be forced into a shelter, where he said he has faced hostility from other residents because of sores on his legs but has been unable to get medical services.
“There is going to be anger and violence in the shelters if we go against our will. They are putting us in a really bad situation,” he said.
A handful of homeless people welcomed the new policy. “Some nights are really cold. You try to stay warm, but you can’t,” said Jose Flores, 47, who typically sleeps outside a Harlem subway station. “If I’m out here freezing, I’d welcome any van taking me to a warm place. People can die out here."
But most rejected the idea.
“That’s not right,” fumed Steve Jones, 63. “The governor can’t force people into shelters. We should have an option. People have rights.”
This is Cuomo trying to make it look like he's doing something about homelessness while really doing nothing about it.
In fact, he's exacerbated the problem.
Cuomo cut $68 million from a program that provided housing subsidies back in 2011.
He's not adding any more funds to what municipalities receive in order to deal with the mandate he imposed yesterday:
Cuomo's executive order "adds no legal or financial resources to NYC's programs to assist the homeless" https://t.co/6dpoBhKiL2— Bill Hammond (@NYHammond) January 4, 2016
He's getting headlines, which is one of his main goals, and he's looking to make de Blasio look ineffectual, which is another of those main goals.
But as for alleviating homelessness with this mandate - not so much.
And as to his argument that it's the humane thing to do, it seems many homeless New Yorkers are rejecting that argument.
As to the practical angle of the argument, no one's quite sure how this mandate will work - kinda like other Cuomo mandates like his APPR teacher evaluation and the SAFE Act.
Cuomo's big on big announcements - not so big on making those big announcements work in the real world.