Pol Position: Mayor’s Math Problem

Math can be hard.

As reporters, we don’t often like doing math (it’s why, among other reasons, we joined this field.) So we commiserate with Hizzoner, that a recent independent report found that he overestimated the costs of asylum seekers in his executive budget.

A new report from the Independent Budget Report found that the Mayors estimates overshot asylum seeker costs between $600 million and 1.7 billion.

Just a little off, Mr. Mayor.  Or maybe it’s the IBO that is off?

The lowest cost scenario from the IBO is $2.671 billion, the baseline cost scenario is $3.073 billion and the higher cost scenario $3.278 billion — while the Mayor’s projection, per the executive budget, is $4.3 billion.

“For our baseline-cost scenario, IBO estimates that the asylum-seeking population in 2024 will continue to follow trends of arrivals, stays, and exits seen in 2023, and that the current cost of providing shelter and food and other city services for asylum seekers will remain constant. This scenario totals $3.1 billion across 2023 and 2024, $1.2 billion lower than the Executive Budget,” the report reads.

The report also highlights that 80 percent of the budget costs are projected to stem from housing while the remaining 20 percent are for a series of administrative costs.

A city hall spokesperson said in a statement that instead, the IBO is the one who can’t do their calculations correctly.

“This is not a serious estimate of the city’s skyrocketing asylum seeker costs, and is consistent with IBO’s pattern of providing unrealistically low cost estimates. Their worst-case analysis ignores their own premise — that the population grows and costs will be higher than current rates. To date, we have already spent more than $1 billion since July of last year and are, unfortunately, on track to reach $1.4 billion by the end of this Fiscal Year, just like we have said for months. Further, with the recent decision by certain states, localities, and a network of activists to resume the bussing of migrants to New York City, as well as the expiration of Title 42 this week, we face significant uncertainty, and must ensure we’re spending within our means. We literally cannot afford to be wrong.”

I guess we will have to wait and see whose figure is more correct over the following months to be 100 percent sure.

In Our Opinion: Jordan Neely Should be Alive

‘I’m tired already. I don’t care if I go to jail and get locked up. I’m ready to die.’”

These were the reported words Jordan Neely said before he was choked to death on the F train.

Neely, before he became the latest emblem of our city’s grapple with mental health and homelessness, was a well-known Michael Jackson performer.

But more importantly, he was a man. He was a person. He was someone in need.

Neely reportedly suffered from mental health challenges in recent years, as his sunny disposition as a performer waned. He had a long rap sheet, having been arrested 42 times. He certainly made commuters nervous on the train with his yelling. But he didn’t deserve to die.

What he did deserve was care and treatment. What he deserved wasn’t a revolving door of incarceration or medical stints that made him no better of a citizen when released. What he deserved was a city that marshaled its immense resources to make sure he could be the best version of himself and not a corpse lying on the cold floor of a subway car or the front page of our tabloids, or a flickering image on the nightly news.

His death has sparked protests across the city, calling for his death to be the last of its kind. And in some darker corners of the city, his death has been celebrated – confusing machismo vigilantism for courage.

Many days, the same scenario plays out differently. An emotionally disturbed person gets on the train, causing some kind of commotion. We nestle into our phones or switch subway cars or just do anything to avoid eye contact. And then we move on with our days.

But that cannot be the answer either – to have the de facto public health policy be wanton indifference to another New Yorker in need.

In the financial center of the richest country in the world, and in the city home to more millionaires than anywhere else on the planet, it is plainly unacceptable and unconscionable that Neely didn’t get the care he needed.

If we want to be serious about public safety, it’s going to take more than increasing the NYPD budget. We need our officials to demand a large influx of federal dollars to revamp our mental health care system – from construction of facilities to more outreach teams and more forms of care.

If we don’t all fight for that, then we are all complicit.

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