New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is an atheist who has been pandering to religious groups – especially to Satmar hasidim – in likely preparation for a gubernatorial run or an appointment to national office by Hillary Clinton if she is elected president next year. De Blasio promised during the 2013 campaign that all homeless youth in the city would have shelter beds if he were elected mayor. But he reneged on that promise, even though many of these homeless youths are survivors of child sex abuse and even though sexual predators openly wait outside youth shelters like Covenant House to try to sexually exploit youths turned away due to lack of space.
Above: Bill de Blasio visits the Skvere Rebbe in New Square, New York earlier this month, the day before he announced the city's informed consent requirement for a dangerous haredi circumcision practice would be dropped
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is an atheist who has been pandering to religious groups – especially to Satmar hasidim – in likely preparation for a gubernatorial run or an appointment to national office by Hillary Clinton if she is elected president next year. De Blasio promised during the 2013 campaign that all homeless youth in the city would have shelter beds if he were elected mayor.
But de Blasio – who kept his promise to Satmar, made in open exchange for the hasidic sect's bloc votes, to end the city's informed consent requirement for the dangerous haredi circumcision practice known as metzitzah b' peh (MBP) – has not kept his promise made to help the most vulnerable and undeserved homeless population the city has, homeless youth, perhaps because they and the social workers who try to help them don't bloc vote.
So de Blasio is cool with mohels sucking babies' bleeding penises for purported medical reasons that were proved false 200 hundred years ago, even though the MBP practice has killed and maimed thousands of babies over the years. At least 17 in New York City alone got herpes from MBP over the past decade or so. The survivors will carry and transmit herpes for life. Two of them will do so while also having significant brain damage caused by the virus. Two others won't have to worry about that because they they died from the virus not long after their circumcisions.
And de Blasio, the New York Times reports, seems to be cool with exploited homeless youths 18- to 21-years-old selling their bodies in order to get shelter – shelter they otherwise would have if de Blasio wasn't, well, an asshole.
Many of these youths were tossed out of their family homes because they're gay or different in some way, while others became homeless because parents died or became seriously ill or drug addicted or were sexually, physically and emotionally abusive.
A surprising number of these kids are ex-haredim, although I suspect that number may be less now than it was a decade ago, only because there's a bigger network of ex-haredim out there who have already stabilized, have apartments and jobs, and can let younger brothers, cousins or former neighbors couch surf when necessary, and because Footsteps exists and can often help find emergency housing.
Even so, some of these kids on the streets – far more than most of you would imagine – are Jewish, be they ex-haredi, or ex-Modern Orthodox or whatever. And the Jewish community does next to nothing to help them.
As I reported in detail several years ago (see, for example, here and here) , there is no Jewish shelter for them and the community also gives very little money to the non-Jewish organizations that actually help and protect these kids – like for example, Covenant House. When I tried to change this several years ago, the UJA- Federation wasn't interested in (or even attentive to) the situation, and the Metropolitan Council of Jewish Poverty's now former CEO, William E. Rapfogel, said he couldn't open shelters or do anything to help these kids (or other non-mentally ill or handicapped homeless Jews between the ages of 18 and 62) because the UJA-Federation was not interested in funding these projects. Why wasn't the UJA-Federation interested, I asked? Rapfogel said the government wouldn't fund these programs, and the the UJA-Federation wouldn't take them on alone.
Of course, it turned out that Rapfogel and his buddies stole at least $9 million from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. His personal share of that loot could have gone a long way to solving the problems we spoke about – a fact I hope he concentrates on during the long prison term he's currently serving.
But as the New York Times reports, it isn't only Slick Willie R who lacks heart and honesty – it's also Bill de Blasio:
…During the mayoral campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would see to it that all homeless youths had beds. But after advocates for the homeless filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city of illegally denying young people shelter, just before he took office, the mayor has surprised them, they said, by fighting the case. [His administration id add 100 youth shelter beds in its first year, but that is a drop in the bucket of what is needed, and his new proposed budget does not add any more.]
“It’s incredibly disheartening,” said Kimberly Forte, a supervising attorney with the Legal Aid Society, which filed the lawsuit in the waning days of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure in 2013. “We’re not seeing a new way of thinking about young people when it comes to homelessness from this administration.”
As the city wrestles with an overall homeless population of more than 60,000, young people pose a challenge not just in terms of providing shelter for them, but also in providing the right kind of shelter to lure them off the streets. And the question of how old is old enough for an adult setting has emerged as the issue blocking a settlement.
The federal class action lawsuit alleges that the city is violating state law by not having enough beds in youth shelters, which can collectively house fewer than 500 people a night.
Administration officials said that the mayor is not backing off the promise…But the administration argues that those between the ages of 18 to 20, a large age group among homeless young people, are not entitled to a youth-specific shelter and have the option of the much wider network of shelters for adults.…
“The administration is really committed to providing as many beds as needed,” said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the deputy mayor for health and human services.
Placing 18 to 20 year-olds in adult shelters, which already house hundreds of people in that age group, most of them single parents, eases the city’s burden of coming up with more youth beds. But social workers who deal with this population say it is not the place for them.
Some have been rejected by their families because how they identify sexually; some are escaping violence or drug use at home. Many feel preyed upon in adult shelters and have special needs for services youth shelters provide, like counseling and family intervention to get them back to school, work or a safe home as quickly as possible.
Without housing, some studies show, many wind up trading sex for a place to sleep.
“If you want to prevent cycles of homelessness, cycles of drug use, of transactional sex, you need to separate them from the adult population and put in the services to stabilize these kids,” said Dr. Mary McKernan McKay, director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University.…in New York, state figures show more than 5,000 people were turned away from youth shelters in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, for lack of beds.
Officials at Covenant House near Times Square, the largest youth shelter in New York City with about 200 shelter beds and another 140 spots for longer-term residential stays, say sexual predators prowl outside for young people who can’t be accommodated. The shelter serves those between 16 and 21 and turns away about 75 people a month.…
Read it all here.