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N.Y.C. Mayoral Candidates Spar Over Homelessness

“The fact is, mentally ill homeless men are changing the character of our neighborhoods. A woman my wife, Ellen, is friends with, and her mom grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, was punched in the face by a mentally ill man, sent a picture of her bruised face around the mom group, spread like wildfire. This is happening in New York City and we’re not talking enough about it. Until there are resources necessary for anyone who’s mentally ill to not be on our streets — it’s not right for them. It’s not right for a city. There will be no recovery until we resolve this. I will fix this, New York.” “Thank you, Mr. Yang.” “That is the greatest nonanswer I’ve ever heard in all of our debates. Not one specific idea, not one specific plan. You started out this campaign talking about using hotels. Now you’re into psych beds. How much is this going to cost, if I could ask you? That’s the real question. This is a teaching moment.” “We can’t afford not to do that, Scott.” “… and say psych beds for all. This is not how the next mayor has to comport themselves. We need specifics.” “Shams daBaron, who was one of the men at the Lucerne on the Upper West Side, is someone I’ve talked too much about this and is in housing right now, had been homeless, street homeless, substance addicted. When the response was to send more police into the subways where he was riding because the congregate shelters were so dangerous, he asked for help and what he got was handcuffed and taken to jail. And our largest psychiatric facility in the city is Rikers Island. So let me just say right now that the premise is wrong because we have the ability to do outreach in the right way, but we simply have to use the right people. And the more we fail to recognize that we’re spending $480,000 a year on that psychiatric facility we call Rikers, we’re missing how we end street homelessness.”

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