City Journal Winter 2014

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Bob McManus
Remember the Permanent Panhandler? « Back to Story

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Really; 3,200 bums in a population of millions (8,000,000 New Yorkers I believe.)

I'd call that success.
Diane Pagen, LMSW October 02, 2013 at 7:23 PM
While an interesting article, it is not accurate to say that there are no vagrants in Grand Central. They may not be lying down, but they are sitting up wherever is available on the lower level. The article needs to address a key matter in the cause of vagrancy--poverty. These people in large measure have no financial resources, in addition to whatever other problems they may have. To believe that systemic poverty and the calculated dismantling of an income safety net have nothing to do with this problem is simply incorrect.
At what point does Mr. McManus claim that 4,000 homeless beggars have made a significant contribution to the murder rate in New York ??? Where from the 1960s through 2000s? Our understanding is that the murder rate exploded with the drug trades, not with ugly smelly dysfunctional beggars.

Clearly the administration of Mr. Dinkins was able to see a decline to the murder and other violent crime rates. That began two years prior to the election of Mr. Giuliani. Times Square had been cleaned up by then as well.

Sure, spending $372 million this year to sanitize street corners in high-rent areas is doable for a 1%er administration. Impact on the total murders in New York? Nothing. On the drug trade? Nothing. Tying these expenditures to fear of "Tony" the smelly beggar is despicable.
Don't know where you been, Bob, the past year or so. Apparently not on the subways or walking the streets much. Street hustlers abound in Midtown. Get on the A train where it starts in Manhattan in the morning and see all the homeless stretched out. Maybe not quite as bad as way back in the 1970's. but things right now aren't quite as rosy as you imply.

PS -- Even though I disagree with Bob about this, he is a longtime friend and one of New York City and State's most professional and ethical journalists.
I know Tony. I lived on that corner from 05-07, and would buy groceries for Tony, if I saw him out on the weekends. I have since moved to the country, but Tony has my cell and every so often, he still reaches out. He recently got out of jail and needed some new clothes, so I shipped him a suit I no longer wear, and a collection of shirts, pants, underware, socks, etc. Tony is a good person, he's made some crappy decisions through his life, and in turn, life has handed him some tough rounds. But, he loves to read, and is easy to speak with it, and most often, has a smile on his face-one missing some teeth!
People are quite bird-witted. They forget how bad it was in the span of ten years or so.

Welcome to hell.
Small point, but an important one:

Giuliani is often credited with making New York safer. While his actions as mayor almost certainly played a part in reducing the city's crime, the rates of all crime began declining between 1990 and 1991, the year Dinkins took office. Giuliani presided over the most dramatic decrease of crime in the city's history, but something other than his policies and leadership got the ball rolling.
They will not choose wisely. New Yorkers seldom do.

Which is why the rubes in flyover country live happier, safer, cleaner and far more prosperous lives than those smart, sophisticated New Yorkers--on half the income we have homes whose walls we needn't share and whose doors we needn't lock, two-car garages, two cars, non-embarrassing schools, non-polluted rivers and air, the ability to get to work in ten minutes, affordable fresh food (we grow it here), rational living costs, low crime, and a host of livability issues large and small.

Good restaurants? A must in the city because after 3 hours of daily commuting who has time to cook? Strictly optional in flyover country where short commutes and low cost of living affords us the ability to cook and eat food of the highest quality, at home with our loved ones. That time, which bonds families together, is generally spent getting to and from work in the city. No thank you.

If my job didn't absolutely depend on it, there is no way I'd live within 30 miles of any major metropolis. York County is a quick jaunt to Baltimore, Washington and Philly, and an easy drive to NYC. If I need something in the city it's no problem to go there and get it done. Then it's back to sensible existence where $140k a year buys you a great life instead of a crappy old flat in a crappy old neighborhood.
New York City spends $372,000,00 to house 4,000 vagrants, and estimates that there are an additional 3,200 living on the streets, for a total of 7,200. If the city were to house them all it would spend $51,667 each. That's government efficiency for you.
I left New York 40 years ago and never looked back.
You should venture lower than 23rd Street. The scene continues to be strikingly similar to what you describe as history. Permanent panhandlers masquerading as homeless on every corner. They even demarcate large areas of the sidewalks as off limits to passersby. Some are quite offensive such as the woman who camped in the ATM and whose propensity to defecate into a cup seemed to discourage patrons. Yes, the upper West and East don't see these sights anymore. Try walking in Union Square. Disgusting and dangerous. Manhattan has simply been tilted on end and these types have slid south so as not to offend the uptown folks. Pretty disgusting. I can only imagine how bad it is going to get when the Marxist takes over City Hall. But, then again, maybe the misery will again be shared by all.
It will never be the same without all those deinstitutionalized psychotics roaming the streets. We can't bring them back again. Proust would understand.
Lhota or DeBlasio need to seize on the motorcycle gang anarchy and the homeless stabbings in Riverside Park. I am also seeing many more homeless sitting on the sidewalks with cardboard signs.

The City could turn bank to the 1970's. Remember the Puerto Rican Day Parade Wildings. It will happen again unless the Mayor and the Police prevent it. It seems to have happened yesterday and today.
We lived in Manhattan in the terrible late 1970s, and it sounds like the cycle is beginning again. In those days, however, there were not the violence-producing street drugs so available now, nor the societal permission to be so violent. Things will get ugly fairly fast if the powers that be don't stop this trend quickly.
Actually, you see numerous homeless at Grand Central, especially hogging the benches in the center of the food court on the lower level. You also have more young OWS-style layabouts on the surrounding streets -- Fifth Avenues seems like a popular roosting ground.