New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants federal assistance to help handle the city’s homelessness issues.
De Blasio said during an interview on “America’s News Headquarters” with Ed Henry Sunday that he wants the feds to issue more housing vouchers to let people staying in shelters move into rental homes. He’s aiming to eliminate long-term homelessness in the city over the next five years.
“The problem ultimately is Donald Trump has not shown any willingness to give us the tools we need, most especially Section 8 vouchers, which allow people to live in rental housing, de Blasio said. "That’s the single-strongest piece we need from Washington that we are not getting right now.”
“The federal government needs to help us with Section 8 vouchers,” he added.
The mayor’s comments came the day after President Trump lambasted California and New York officials on Twitter over “their tremendous homeless problems.” He suggested that federal help might be available, if state leaders “politely” ask for help.
As of September, there were more than 62,000 people experiencing homelessness in New York. De Blasio said the city has already moved 120,000 people from shelters to affordable housing over the past six years, and the number of people homeless on the streets is starting to go down.
“We will end long-term homelessness once and for all,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio, who ended his presidential bid earlier this year, said he believes a combination of housing vouchers, new affordable housing and local-federal cooperation are needed to address homelessness.
But de Blasio may be left waiting if he’s planning to rely on those vouchers. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has said “throwing money” at homelessness “doesn’t work.” In an interview on “The Evening Edit” earlier this month, Carson said more work needs to be done by local and state leaders in areas with “crisis” levels of homelessness to address the causes.
"That means taking people off the street and putting them in a location that is safe, but also a location in which we can provide some of the wraparound services because [it's] not just a matter of getting them off the street," Carson said then. "It's a matter of figuring out why you're on the street in the first place."
De Blasio said he has already “worked very productively” with Carson on housing issues.
The interview on Sunday came just hours after New York City police arrested a suspect accused of stabbing five people at a rabbi’s home outside of the city. It was the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents in New York and across the country, which de Blasio called “profoundly dangerous.”
The mayor said the NYPD was stepping up its presence in areas with large Jewish populations and that a new unit is focused on combating ethnic extremism. City officials are also working to educate people in the community against hatred.
De Blasio defended New York state bail reform that will go into effect at the start of the year, even though others accused of crimes targeting the Jewish community have been released as a result of the city implementing the reform ahead of time. The new rules allow someone to be released as long as there is not an injured victim.
The mayor said most suspects are released anyway after posting bail — only those who can’t afford it remain behind bars pending a trial.
“That is not helping anybody … we’re not going to jail our way out of the problem,” he said.