They are sleeping in front of the Empire State building, sprawled in front of the doors of Macy’s, and panhandling outside Grand Central. New York is in the grip of a homeless epidemic so bad that it has raised fears of the city slipping back into the disorder of the 1970s and 1980s. The city’s police chief this week said that as many as 4,000 people are now sleeping rough in the city, in a crisis which even the city’s ultra-liberal mayor has finally acknowledged after months of denials.
Police officers have identified 80 separate homeless encampments in the city, 20 of which are so entrenched that they have their own furniture, while its former mayor Rudolph Giuliani has spoken scathingly of how his successor is failing to keep order. This week New York governor Andrew Cuomo said bluntly that ‘it’s hard not to conclude that we have a major homeless problem in the city of New York’ while the city’s police chief Bill Bratton described the scale of it as ‘a tipping point’. And even Bill de Blasio, who has spent months refusing to acknowledge that the growing scale of rough sleeping was anything other than a ‘perception problem’ finally said there was ‘a reality problem’. FULL REPORT