Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:33AM
The New York City Mayor attempted to raise eligibility requirements at homeless shelters to an almost impossible standard a year ago. That effort was shot down in court late last week but New York's problem of homelessness is still getting worse.
It's not an uncommon sight in New York. Down-and-out men and women -- foraging for something to eat -- or a comfortable place to rest in the cold -- often in the shadow of gleaming office towers and apartment buildings. Marion Harris was rendered homeless by Hurricane Sandy -- and he says that in a city with so much money -- its tough to get back on your feet. Harris resides at the shelter that used to be the old Bellvue Psychiatric Hospital -- where he says conditions are deplorable. Conditions for homeless families got worse a year ago -- when New York's billionaire Mayor -- Michael Bloomberg -- quietly changed shelter admission standards for families -- requiring them to prove that they had nowhere else to go before they could be admitted. Bloomberg's effort was shot down in court last Thursday by a judge who called it "unlawful" -- and critics called the Mayor's effort "wrongheaded." A statement from the Coalition for the Homeless called the ruling a "victory for sanity and decency" -- adding that Bloomberg's plan would have had many more people sleeping on the streets and subways in the deep of winter. The Legal Aid Society added that it shouldn't have taken a lawsuit to get the city's homeless services agency to do its job. Now many residents here have told us that they are only one good job away from getting out of this system entirely. Another resident says the problem is societal -- and that people need to care about the homeless before the problem can be solved. Some who are struggling say the Mayor's the last person that they were looking to for help. According to the Coalition for the Homeless -- more than a hundred thousand different people will spend a night in New York City's homeless shelter program over the course of the year -- a number that includes more than forty thousand children. That number -- according to the Coalition -- has risen by fifty percent over the last ten years alone.