Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s State of the City address yesterday scored high marks for encouraging small-business growth, helping low-income New Yorkers with bank accounts, and aiding teens who’ve been jailed.
But the mayor ignored pressing issues like homelessness and public transportation cuts, say advocates. We asked some New Yorkers what they think the “real” state of the city is:
It was rumored that Bloomberg would address the threatened free student MetroCard program in his speech, but the mayor was mute on the issue facing 600,000 New York students.
“What’s going to happen?” asked Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “I’ve been bombarded with PTAs and school groups asking, ‘Who do we call, who do we write?’”
“The mayor mentioned the word ‘homelessness’ once during his speech,” said Patrick Markee, at the Coalition for the Homeless.
In 2004, Bloomberg promised to reduce the number of the city’s homeless by two-thirds by 2009. Instead, says Markee, the numbers have increased. Nearly 40,000 people sleep in the city’s shelters each night; 16,000 are children.
“It’s at an all-time high,” said Markee. “I’m really disappointed he didn’t acknowledge that what he’s been doing for the past eight years hasn’t worked.”
Bloomberg talked about job creation, but not raising wages, said John Petro, an urban affairs analyst at Drum Major Institute. One in three workers in New York City makes only about $24,000 a year, Petro said.
“That’s not enough to support a family or even two people,” he said. “We need to look at raising wages across the board.”