Blood-Soaked Mayor Adams Announces Homelessness No Longer A Problem In New York City
We know the NYPD will force poor people into jail now, right?
The homelessness crisis bedeviled the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. When he entered office in 2002, the billionaire and avowed technocrat launched a 5-year-plan to combat homelessness, pledging to slash the unhoused population by two thirds. This Elon Musk of yore thought that poor people were trying to game the system by pretending to be homeless, so one of the first orders of business was to cut homeless families priority access to federal housing.
Family homelessness went up, by close to 50 percent.
Bloomberg introduced a temporary rental voucher, called Advantage, but when the voucher ran out after two years, people went back into the homeless shelters, bloating the population of homeless families and overstretching the city and state budget allocated to homelessness overall. Landlords learned not to trust temporary city rental vouchers. Governor Andrew Cuomo cut state funding to the Advantage program, and in a fit of pique Bloomberg just killed it, giving families with Advantage months to figure out where to live. The homeless population went up to record heights.
Bloomberg’s successor, Bill de Blasio, will go down in history as the Big Bird doofus, but recall that he swept into office over Bloomberg’s chosen successor, Christine Quinn, in part because of the Bloomberg administration’s disastrous handling of homelessness. A New York Times reporter, Andrea Elliott, followed the troubles of a homeless family, highlighting a little girl’s experience in Invisible Child Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life. The story made a huge splash and Dasani was a featured guest at de Blasio’s inauguration.
In a classic parody The Onion spoofed Bloomberg’s record on homelessness towards the end of his term:
Blood-Soaked Mayor Bloomberg Announces Homelessness No Longer A Problem In New York City
NEW YORK—Drenched in drying blood and limping slightly, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg triumphantly stated this morning that the city’s longstanding homeless problem had finally been solved. “Homelessness is over—it’s not a problem anymore,” a winded Bloomberg said to a City Hall press conference while gripping the lectern tightly to prevent his hands from shaking. “I fixed the problem. Problem solved.” When asked by reporters if permanent housing had been provided for the city’s 50,000 homeless, Bloomberg assured them the new lodgings were quite permanent.
Mayor Eric Adams has a different homelessness problem. The plight of homeless families (still bad!) has receded in the discourse, in part because they aren’t visible and Human Internet Brain no longer has the capacity to care about relatively invisible problems.
Adams’ problem is unhoused people who choose to live on the street and the trains or who have no choice. Actually, it’s a whole constellation of problems that Adams has. Office workers don’t want to commute to work 5 days a week, undercutting the city’s tax base, and also the trains fucking suck. Instead of committing to making the trains suck less, he’s opted to blame lower riderships on concerns about public safety, even though people seem to feel pretty safe taking the train to go out to get drunk in Brooklyn and the East Village on weekend nights. (The trains must be extra unsafe around 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday).
The brutal murder of Michelle Go, the stuff of everyone’s urban nightmare, has provided the Mayor with the perfect scapegoat: mentally ill unhoused people. And now he’s living out an IRL of the Onion’s Bloomberg satire.
“NYC to involuntarily commit more mentally unstable people after subway attacks” the New York Post announced Tuesday.
The debate about what to do with unhoused mentally ill people who refuse treatment has been at the forefront of crime discourse lately.
If the city offered real mental health treatment, with longterm therapy and the wide swath of drugs available to rich people, more mentally ill unhoused people would likely acquiesce to mental health treatment. As things stand, they spend a few days in Bellevue after a psychotic break, get a shot of Haldol, which calms psychosis temporarily, and get sent back out on the street because the facility needs the beds.
At the same time, one of the difficulties in treating psychosis is that sometimes people don’t realize they’re experiencing a dangerous episode and refuse treatment. In an article in The City, Alyssa Katz chronicles a mother’s desperate quest to get her son mental health treatment for schizophrenia. It’s called, “How to Keep Your Son From Killing Someone,” and it’s heartbreaking.
Laws and policies grasp for an elusive balance between civil liberties and compelled treatment for those driven by paranoid delusions and violent tendencies. For family members, the choices are immediate and dire. Keep him at home, try to treat the mental illness, and pray that your adult child doesn’t deteriorate. Days and nights pass in fear that they could injure someone — a family member, a stranger, themselves.
That’s been Clarissa Crader’s life for the past two decades, as a devoted caretaker to her son, Justin Campbell. Clarissa, a retired transit police officer, and Justin lived together in the house she owned in Bushwick even as he caused her unending misery, stealing items and doing damage to their home.
A 2014 police report after she called 911 indicates he threatened to kill her if she didn’t give him money to buy video games. “I fear for my safety with him in the house,” Clarissa told the cops.
As I wrote in the Daily News in 2016 when I first met Clarissa and Justin: “If you haven’t guessed, Campbell has schizophrenia. He believes he’s an undiscovered superstar and diamond-heist mastermind awaiting the paparazzi. Depending on the occasion, he dons identities that include Amanda Bynes, La Femme Nikita and Mathilda, Natalie Portman’s avenging pre-teen from ‘The Professional.’
The author notes that Clarissa’s son refuses to take his meds.
But—what Adams is doing, it’s not a solution to a situation like Clarissa’s and Justin’s. We know that Adams is telling the NYPD to just pick up and commit anyone visibly homeless, right? Even if they’re not visibly psychotic or visibly mentally ill or even agitated? Read the fine print:
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