In case anyone needed to be reminded just how far out of touch with the common man most billionaires are, Michael Bloomberg demonstrated the breadth of that gulf with his reaction to the recent New York Times piece on the homeless, which featured an 11-year-old girl named Dasani. According to Bloomberg the fact that Dasani and her family find themselves homeless is just bad luck.
He told Politicker that she and her family were in a “sad situation,” and that, “This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not.”
He insists that Dasani and her family are an unusual case, and that most homeless in the city are not without a home for as long as they have been, blaming it on her family’s lack of any employment history. “The average homeless family spends less than two years in shelter and has some employment history; this family did not,” he said.
In the Times piece, Andrea Elliot wrote, “The Bloomberg administration adopted sweeping new policies intended to push the homeless to become more self-reliant. They would no longer get priority access to public housing and other programs, but would receive short-term help with rent.”
Bloomberg vowed in 2004 to reduce homelessness by two-thirds in five years, but in fact it has increased by 60 percent on his watch, from 38,000 when he took office to more than 50,000 per night in 2013. He explained this to the New York Times last year saying that people are staying in the shelters longer because, “We have made our shelter system so much better that, unfortunately, when people are in it — or fortunately, depending on what your objective is — it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”
He attacked the media for making too much of the plight of the homeless saying, “I think one of the problems is a lot of journalists have never looked around the world, your smirk shows you haven’t been outside the country and don’t know what poverty means elsewhere.”
Fortunately for the homeless in New York, incoming Mayor, Bill DeBlasio has said that he was deeply moved by the plight of Dasani and her family and vowed that his administration would take a different approach to poverty and homelessness in the city.
He said, “If you ever needed an illustration of what the tale of two cities is all about, there you have it. We are simply not going to allow this kind of reality to continue.”
h/t: Think Progress