By Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Mayor Bill de Blasio claims some panhandlers are doing it for fun. In the past, he’s said he wished he could eliminate panhandling. In my opinion, many are doing so because they are homeless and have little-to-no income.
These people need to eat and have needs like many of us do. Does he want to starve the homeless out of existence so that the issue will go away? There are many who are chemically dependant or mentally ill, or both. Also, there are those who have fallen on hard times, like veterans who have found it impossible to handle the high cost of housing. These individuals often have no choice but to panhandle.
What is the de Blasio administration doing to help the destitute? Homelessness in the Big Apple has shot up under Bill de Blasio’s watch to its highest level since 2005. According to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services, homelessness is up 40 percent over last year. There there is an estimated 60,000 living in shelters and motels paid by for the city and taxpayers. I see quite a few panhandlers in Glen Oaks Village and many of our residents and businesses find this most troubling.
I wonder: If these desperate individuals panhandled in front of City Hall or at the Mayor’s home in Brooklyn, would he try to do more? Of course, he would likely have security preventing that from happening.
I found myself homeless in 1975 after my release from the U.S. Navy, having served during the Vietnam era. I was forced to ask for spare change on the street for a while, until I was offered a place to live by the kindness of a stranger named Cyril who emigrated from Nigeria and understood homelessness. I truly feel the pain of the homeless and ask the city to do more.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village