While attending a press conference in Queens on Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg said New York City's homeless shelters have improved so greatly in recent years, homeless individuals can enjoy "a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before" and suggested people therefore don't want to leave.
The Wall Street Journal reports the mayor was answering to a question regarding the increased amount of time homeless families spend in city shelters:
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 befor
When we came into office, the shelter system was an abomination. People were driven around all night. The kids slept on benches. None of that happens again. So, there’s less pressure on people to move out today. And the economy is a lot worse.
The comment sparked outrage from homeless advocates who have long criticized the mayor for his controversial homeless policies, including his decision to end housing assistance programs like Advantage.
Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, denounced Thursday's remarks as both "shocking and offensive."
Last October, homelessness numbers surged to a record breaking 41,000, the first time the city exceeded the 40,000 mark.
Bloomberg recently blamed overcrowded shelters on New York's unique homeless laws that require the city to provide shelter regardless of residency. The mayor said out-of-town homeless visitors were filling up shelters and therefore suggested a change in policy was needed to keep numbers down.
In November, the city council sued Bloomberg over his new law requiring homeless adults to prove they are in fact homeless and have no other housing options available to them.