Nobody is denying that taking care of people who have fallen on rough times is the compassionate thing to do. However, de Blasio is seeking to implement a radical change to our community, and he is trying to do so without our consent or feedback.
Mayor de Blasio is attempting to circumvent the will of our community by declaring an “emergency,” which will remove procedural hurdles that are in place to protect us and those he is claiming to want to help.
The normal procedure for creating a homeless shelter would call for a competitive bidding process from various providers. The City of New York would then review
the proposals and the public would be granted an opportunity to express their concerns.
This process usually takes 18-24 months. Under a de Blasio “emergency” declaration, the process would be complete within mere months and the public would not have a chance to express their concerns.
This is a perfect example of the kind of backdoor way of doing things that has
defined the de Blasio administration. This maneuver sets up a “temporary” shelter, but as former comptroller John Liu said in a report in 2013, “emergency shelters end up acting as a pathway for establishing permanent shelters."
Mayor de Blasio knows that once the shelter is in place, it is almost impossible to disband. Once the move is made to make the shelter permanent, the public would have an opportunity to speak, but by that point it would be too late to change anything.
So what happens next and what can be done? The Department of Homeless Services
(DHS) on de Blasio's orders will claim that there is an unforeseen emergency. Comptroller Scott Stringer and Corporation Counsel will review the declaration.
The comptroller has the ability to deny the shelter at this point. Elected officials should be actively lobbying the comptroller and explain to him that this shelter is a bad idea for all parties involved.
Now, if the comptroller refuses to act on our concerns, DHS then has to explain in more detail what is the basis of the unforeseen emergency. The comptroller will then have a second chance to deny the shelter.
If the comptroller decides there is an unforeseen emergency and allows the shelter to go forward, elected officials must challenge Mayor de Blasio in court as a last stand.
Our current elected officials should be willing to use their positions to pursue every path available to stop Mayor de Blasio’s fundamental transformation of our neighborhoods.
Sadly, like most of you, I have no faith in some of our elected officials. Many of them have simply chosen to abdicate their responsibility to act as a voice of the people. Many of them have refused time and time again to stand up to de Blasio.
Enough is enough. The middle class has been crushed enough.
Brian Barnwell is an attorney and candidate for the state Assembly in the 30th District.