New York Post: City Government Is “Too Generous” With Homeless Families


Is the latest New York Post editorial a parody of a New York Post editorial? Written by an angry libertarian teenager who doesn’t understand why poor people can’t “just get a job,” like the afternoon gig he’s got at Wingstop that helps pay for his Xbox games? That’s seemingly the only way to parse this demented masterpiece, written in response to the New York Times‘s heartbreaking five-part series on the city’s homeless families, “Invisible Children.”

The NYT series focused on one 11-year-old girl, Dasani, who makes her home in Fort Greene’s Auburn Family Residence, a falling-down shelter that houses nearly 300 other homeless children and their families. The series is a painstaking, precise look at how Dasani’s family got there; her mother, Chanel, and stepfather, Supreme, are both unemployed drug addicts who struggle to provide for Dasani and her seven siblings. But the series also lays some serious blame with the city and the Bloomberg administration:

Yet Dasani’s trials are not solely of her parents’ making. They are also the result of decisions made a world away, in the marble confines of City Hall. With the economy growing in 2004, 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. Poor people would be empowered, the mayor argued, and homelessness would decline.

But the opposite happened. As rents steadily rose and low-income wages stagnated, chronically poor families like Dasani’s found themselves stuck in a shelter system with fewer exits. Families are now languishing there longer than ever — a development that Mr. Bloomberg explained by saying shelters offered “a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”

The story notes that at the same time Bloomberg made that comment, Dasani was living in a mouse-infested room, caring mostly single-handedly for her infant sister.

The Post didn’t bother with any actual reporting to try to debunk the story, shooting straight to the editorial, published online last night. It relies on the Post‘s favorite kind of source, the anonymous, possibly imaginary kind: an unnamed “city official,” who told the tabloid the family’s situation was “atypical.”

However, the editorial board does generously allow that the place where Dasani lives has “problems,” including “mice and reports of sexual assaults” (according to the Times, Auburn staffers have been repeatedly cited by city inspectors for sexual misconduct, as well as “spoiled food, asbestos exposure, lead paint and vermin.”)

But really, the Post argues, is it the city’s job to provide safe housing to its needy children? Pish-posh! Instead, the editorial board argues, heads buried safely in some sort of warm, cozy body cavity:

[T]he Times and Elliott, like much of the liberal establishment, seem to think it’s the city’s job to provide comfortable lives to outrageously irresponsible parents. In this case, that’s a couple with a long history of drug problems and difficulty holding jobs.

Something’s wrong with that picture.

If the city is at fault here, it might well be for having been too generous — providing so much that neither the father nor mother seems much inclined to provide for their kids. That would be a story worth reading.

To sum up: Thousands of homeless children living in dangerous, rat-infested housing isn’t an urgent social crisis and a black eye for the greatest city in the world. It’s just a damn good start.

The Post editorial is making the rounds on Twitter, where people are responding appropriately …

Send your story tips to the author, Anna Merlan.