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'Not a sexy issue': NYC civic leader says politicians are ignoring the homeless

America’s economic expansion is now the longest on record, but many Americans are being left behind — leading to a rise in the U.S. homeless population for the third year in a row.

study out last month from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that on a single night in 2019, over 567,715 people in the U.S. were homeless. That marked a 2.7% surge since 2018, which HUD attributed largely to spikes in homelessness in California and Oregon.

While President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to blame California’s homelessness problem on prominent local Democrats, the city that actually has the highest rate of homelessness is Washington, DC, according to a report out from the White House in September. (San Francisco had the highest rate of unsheltered homeless people, that same report found.)

New York City also has one of the country’s highest rates of homelessness, and one group is taking issue with the way New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is handling it.

”The problem that we're having in [New York ], in California, and other places around the country, is that none of the politicians really want to deal with the homeless issue,” Michael Fischer, Central Park South Civic Association president, told Yahoo FInance’s “On The Move.”

“It's not a sexy issue for them. They want to stay as far away from it as they can,” said Fischer, who has spoken out against de Blasio’s plans to open a homeless shelter on W. 58th Street.

In particular, Fisher criticized de Blasio’s plan announced in February 2017 to open up 90 shelters over the course of five years — including one that would inhabit the former Park Savoy Hotel on W. 58th Street.

“What Mayor de Blasio is doing is he’s spending close to $1 billion to open up 90 shelters in the richest areas of the city, and those shelters are not addressing the issues on the street,” he said, later adding, “He actually has public land that he could build on ... that would be a lot less money.”

For his part, de Blasio has made repeated pledges to address New York City’s homelessness problem. Most recently, last month, he launched a plan that he said would end long-term street homelessness in New York City in the next five years.

Bridgette Webb is a producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter 

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