The Mayor was Right About Homeless Shelters
by Anthony Stasi
Aug 29, 2012 | 3018 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s remarks about the state of homeless facilities in the city became fodder for social networks and the blogosphere last week.

Sure, with headlines that have the words “luxe” and “homelessness” there is room for doubt, but the mayor is right to say that transitional housing facilities have gotten better over the years. This is not to say that people would rather stay there than have their own permanent arrangement, but given that they have a clean bed, plumbing, and meals while they deal with their issues, they are sometimes better off staying in a safe place.

To better understand this, you have to get past what you think a homeless shelter is in the first place. No longer are these gymnasiums with cots and noisy temporary residents. Instead, the city takes a few days to figure out where to place someone (or a family) and then they are recommended to a transitional housing program, where they stay anywhere from a few days to maybe a year or two.

In the meantime, professionals at these facilities try (not always successfully) to get these people into jobs so they can move on. This is a giant leap from the old days, and if that is what the mayor was alluding to, he is right on.

The reason why people may not want to leave these facilities is that there is not much hope out there economically. But that is only a guess. There is a whole profession that works to instill dignity back into this community, where years ago the system was only a means of corralling people off the street.

Are they great places to live? No, but they beat living under an overpass. And if a man thinks an overpass is the next stop, you bet he is staying in the program.

The problem is that until a few years ago, a homeless person would stay in a transitional program (temporarily) and then qualify for permanent housing. They would pay a percentage of whatever their income was toward rent, and the rest was supported by the government.

That program is going away, and that means that people are hesitant to leave the transitional stage. So, with all the jokes and criticism, the mayor was right. He knows this issue, even if his ten-year plan did not get the traction that he wanted.

The Yankees and the Playoffs

Why do the Yankees get knocked out of the playoffs so often? The first answer is that it is just hard to win games, and all playoff teams are pretty good. To be more precise, the Yankees have a lot of trouble with an opposing team’s ace and number 2 starting pitchers.

Forget the macho sports talk about teams choking in the playoffs. And you can throw out the nonsense that the Yankees do not play hard because they are paid too much. Every team plays hard.

The Yankees routinely get bounced out of the first round of the playoffs for one reason: it is a best-of-five series. The Yankees win their division often, but even in seasons when they win close to 100 games, they have one interesting habit – they only beat certain pitchers.

Each team usually has five starting pitchers (some use four). That’s great for the Yankees, who routinely fatten up on an opposing team’s number 3, 4, and 5 starters. Think about it, if you lose to the top two pitchers and beat the next three, you are now winning 60 percent of your games. Over a long season, this helps the Yankees win a lot of games.

In a first-round, best-of-five series, where the Yankees face the top of a rotation, they have trouble. If a series goes to a fourth game, the Yankees see the ace again. They do not get the luxury of pounding out the bottom of the rotation.

You can see this with individual hitters. Over a 162-game schedule, right fielder Nick Swisher gives the Yankees a good jolt in the line-up. In the playoffs, however, when the Yankees are facing the top of a rotation, Swisher hits a paltry .160. And so it goes.

If the Yankees want to make a good season go further than the first round, they need to start winning when they face the top of the rotation. This is why the record does not tell the whole story of a team. Right now, they are too geared toward winning over the long haul, and the playoffs are not the long haul.
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