Since progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio replaced business-friendly billionaire Michael Bloomberg in January 2014, right-wing media have repeatedly claimed that the new mayor's policies have hurt the city's economy. In fact, according to The New York Times, two years into de Blasio's tenure, New York City has witnessed some of its strongest economic numbers in a half-century. Homelessness remains an issue in the city, but The Times reports that the problem is mostly due to a strong real estate market, and the de Blasio administration has invested in tackling the problem.
New York City Sees Strongest Job Growth In Last Half-Century
NY Times: “New York City Has Rarely Been In Better Financial Shape.” On March 7, The New York Times lauded the city's job growth and wage gains during Mayor Bill de Blasio's tenure. The Times reported that “the city added more jobs in Mr. de Blasio's first two years in office -- 248,000 -- than in any two-year period in the last half-century.” The Times also stated that city “tourism is at a high” and that wage growth in the city continues at a “fast pace.” The economic news counters right-wing media myths that the mayor's progressive policies have hurt the city:
Even amid national and global concerns about teetering economies, New York City has rarely been in better financial shape. Indeed, the city added more jobs in Mr. de Blasio's first two years in office -- 248,000 -- than in any two-year period in the last half-century, according to data released last week by the State Labor Department.
Along with the steady increases in employment, the wages of workers in the city have risen at a fast pace over the last two years, helping them cope with the dizzying cost of living. Residential and office construction are booming. Tourism is at a high.
Of course, a roaring real estate market has left many New Yorkers struggling to pay for housing and has fed a homelessness problem that has bedeviled Mr. de Blasio.
Still, by virtually any measure, the city continues to do better than the rest of the country in rebounding from the financial crisis, economists said.
“For the first time in this recovery, workers generally are enjoying the benefits of the recovery full-on,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said. “In the rest of the country we're not quite there yet.” [The New York Times, 3/7/16]
Right-Wing Media Have Been Relentless In Attacks On NYC And Its Mayor
Rush Limbaugh: If Homeless People Are “Dying On The Streets,” It's Because “Liberals Are In Charge.” On the February 19 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh claimed that “if anybody is dying on the streets in New York, it's not because nobody cares” adding “those are the kind of things that happen when liberals are in charge of things.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/19/16]
Sean Hannity: I Live In New York, So I Know “What It's Like To Live Under Communism.” On the January 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity claimed, “I am taxed by New York to death” and those who are not living in New York “have no idea what it's like to live under communism” with “Comrade de Blasio” :
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I live in New York, and for those of you that don't live in New York, I gotta tell you something. You have no idea what it's like to live under communism. We have Comrade De Blasio. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 1/15/16]
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: “I Swear To God, The Squeegees Will Be Coming Out” In Central Park And On The Upper West Side. On the August 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough lamented what he called a “homeless epidemic” sweeping across New York City, which he blamed on the “misguided liberalism” of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Scarborough repeatedly claimed it was “a lie” that the increased homelessness could be explained by the “previous administration's cuts to the homeless budgets,” as he said de Blasio's administration had claimed. He instead blamed de Blasio for threatening to reverse the improving economy of the previous two decades -- “one of the greatest governmental miracles that's ever happened in the past 200 years.” [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 8/25/15]
O'Reilly Dehumanizes The Homeless And Blames “Uber Liberal Mayor Bill De Blasio” For Streets Filled With “Beggars” and “Thugs.” On the June 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly smeared the mayor of New York, claiming things are “really getting crazy” since de Blasio took over and that Penn Station has “gone downhill.” The O'Reilly Factor's Jesse Watters went into Penn station to interview commuters and the homeless to create a narrative that the homeless were a problem that de Blasio was not addressing. The show continued its poor-shaming on July 27, when O'Reilly claimed that “the streets of New York City are growing increasingly chaotic under liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio,” and said they are now filled with “beggars, homeless folks and low-level thugs who menace passersby.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/29/15, 7/27/15]
New York City Is Tackling Economic Inequality, Has Invested In Helping The Poor
On MSNBC, NYPD Commissioner Refuted Claims About New York's Homeless Population. On the September 1 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton corrected several mistaken claims previously forwarded by host Joe Scarborough -- namely, that the city's homeless population has suddenly increased and that police are being told to avoid engaging with the homeless. Bratton told Scarborough that the city has helped lower the number of homeless people sheltering in bus and train stations, and corrected his incorrect claim that police were “told to back off” the practice of detaining homeless New Yorkers and forcibly relocating them to shelters. Bratton said officers have simply been told to “police constitutionally” and pointed out that while police and other government agencies can offer services to the homeless, they cannot compel their compliance if they have not broken any law:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): What we have heard, what other people around this set have heard, with contacts in the police department, is that the police have been told to back off on taking homeless people to shelters. Can you tell us -- true or not?
POLICE COMMISSIONER BILL BRATTON: Not at all. In our transit system we have reduced the homeless population very significantly, in the subways, because of our outreach efforts working with many of the homeless outreach groups that focused on that issue. Just the opposite, what I want my officers to do is police constitutionally. I don't want them breaking the law.
BRATTON: We have, over the last several weeks, been basically breaking up the encampments where they -- literally, the homeless will seek to set up an encampment. And, of the 50 that we most recently broke up, we spoke to about a hundred-some-odd individuals within those encampments. Only 10 of them accepted services. This is a service-resistant population who provided reasons [they] prefer to be on the street.
SCARBOROUGH: What do you do if they resist?
BRATTON: If they resist, there is really nothing that you can do. ...The laws, the tools that we have to work with them, are really not adequate for the issues we're facing. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 9/1/15]
Vox: Growth In Homelessness In The City Started Decades Before De Blasio Took Office. On July 1, Vox called out Bill O'Reilly's poor-shaming and attacks on the mayor of New York City. Vox noted that homelessness had “stabilize[d] between 2014 and 2015,” but had “trended way up for decades -- long before de Blasio took office” :
A 2015 report by the Coalition of the Homeless showed that, although homelessness appeared to stabilize between 2014 and 2015, it's trended way up for decades -- long before de Blasio took office in January 2014. While the city's population grew by about 16 percent between 1990 and 2014, the number of homeless people tracked in the New York City shelter system more than tripled during this time.
This doesn't appear to be a problem only in New York. A 2014 study from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development found that, while homelessness declined by 2 percent between 2013 and 2014, it rose by 6 percent in New York City, where 12 percent of homeless Americans reside, and 1 percent in all major cities. So major cities generally saw a rise as the rest of the nation didn't. [Vox, 7/1/15]
Budget For Department Of Homeless Services Has Increased More Than 16 Percent Under Mayor De Blasio. According to figures released by the New York City Council, the budget allotment for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for fiscal year 2015 represents a nearly 16 percent increase from fiscal year 2012, the last full year of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure. The city allocated $147.4 million more for the department in fiscal year 2015, a 16.3 percent increase from fiscal year 2012, bringing total DHS expenditures to just over $1 billion. Mayor de Blasio's budget proposal for fiscal year 2016 calls for additional funding increases at DHS, bringing expenditures above $1.1 billion. [The Council of the City of New York, Report on the Fiscal Year 2015 Executive Budget, 5/19/14; The City of New York Executive Budget, Fiscal Year 2016, 5/7/15]
NY Times: De Blasio To Spend $100 Million On Shelter Improvement, Housing Subsidies. According to a May 7 article in The New York Times, de Blasio's response to criticism of the city's housing system was to announce a $100 million annual commitment to improve New York's homeless shelters, expand housing subsidies to thousands of low-income families, and fund anti-eviction programs to keep residents off the streets. [The New York Times, 5/6/15]
Politico NY: Bloomberg-Era Funding For Homeless Prevention Program Has Doubled. According to a March 17 report by Politico New York, funding for the HomeBase homeless prevention program has doubled since the end of the Bloomberg administration. However, the current administration “aims to move away from using cluster sites, in which residents are temporarily housed in private apartments,” the use of which “expanded” under the previous administration, instead prioritizing public housing and Section 8 housing vouchers. [Politico New York, 3/17/15]