6 Ways the 7th Richest Man in America Has Screwed the Poor

Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves behind one of the biggest wealth gaps in the country.

Photo Credit: AFP

March 22, 2013  |  

The following piece is part of AlterNet’s series on poverty, Hard Times, USA. 

Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg perfectly described a day in the life of your average homeless New Yorker. “You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system and walk in the door and we’ve got to give you shelter,”  he said on his radio show, addressing the record rate of homelessness in the city. 

50,000 people, including 21,000 children, are currently crowded into the city’s emergency shelters, a 61 percent rise from when the Mayor took office,  according to the Coalition for the Homeless. 

Last month, the Mayor had  assured reporters that “Nobody’s sleeping on the streets,” a claim easily refuted by a look at the city’s homelessness statistics and/or going outside in New York. As it turns out, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) had recently  suspended a program making it easier for homeless families to get into shelters when the temperature dips below freezing. The DHS did not share this information widely; it came to light after a  New York Daily News report highlighted the case of 23 year-old Junior Clarke, who told the News that he, his wife, and 4 year-old daughter were turned away from the city’s intake center on a freezing day. When they refused to leave, staff threatened to call the police. 

“They tried to make us leave and we refused,” Clarke  told the Daily News.  “You know some people leave, walk away and go sleep on the train with their families.” 

As the  7th richest man in America finishes his final term in office, he leaves behind one of the biggest wealth gaps in the country:  income inequality in Manhattan is the second worst in the US, according to  the New York Times. New York’s poverty rate has risen to the highest level in a decade, the Times also noted. 1 in 3 New York kids live below the  poverty line. In parts of the Bronx, two thirds of residents live  in areas of extreme poverty

At the start of his second term, the Mayor raised the hopes of advocates for the poor by expanding the definition of poverty to account for the high cost of living in the city. But as sociologist Francis Fox Piven  told the Gotham Gazette, “If we thought a new measure would mean more generous policies, we were wrong.” 

In fact, many Mayoral actions have significantly worsened the lives of the poor. Here’s a look at some of his greatest hits. 

1. Booting Homeless Families from Priority Access to Housing Aid… 




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