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article imageAlmost 300 of NYC's municipal employees are homeless

By Karen Graham     Sep 22, 2015 in Business
New York City - The New York Post opened a can of worms yesterday, revealing that their research showed almost 300 of New York City's municipal employees were homeless, living in shelters or their cars. On Monday, Mayor de Blasio responded.
Angelo Torres is a veteran Parks maintenance worker who spends eight hours a day cleaning up trash on Staten Island's Midland Beach. Torres makes $33,662 a year, and it just isn't enough to find a place to live, according to the New York Post on Monday.
The problem centers around the city's median rent, and at $2,690 a month, it is too much to pay for workers like Torres. New York City sanitation enforcement agent Georgie Grier makes $33,600 a year, and she lives in a city-run shelter.
She and Torres share a similar problem. Two years ago, New York City compiled data showing that roughly 30 percent of homeless families in the city were employed, with some of them working for the city. So someone knew about this problem before yesterday says Gothamist.
A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office, Ishanee Parikh, says records show that 83 municipal employees are registered in the city's shelter system. "Economic realities including increasing rents and wages remaining flat affect people across the City, leading hardworking New Yorkers to end up in homeless shelters," Parikh said in a statement.
In the statement, Parikh also added that when the mayor took office, city workforce contracts had expired, and so far the administration has brought 83 percent of the workforce under fair contracts with fair wages. He added, "We continue to bring workers into contract. We are aggressively helping all working people—including these City employees living in shelters—find a path to permanent housing.”
“A city job was always the gateway out of poverty,” said Joseph Puleo, president of Local 983 of District Council 37. “You knew you had a pension, a good job and didn’t have to worry, but those days are gone,” he said. Some of the municipal workers in DC 37 only make $24,000 a year.
Dilcy Benn, president of the union’s Local 1505, told the NY Post more than 100 of the 1,000 Parks workers she represents are living in shelters, and another four, including Torres, are living on the streets in Staten Island and in the Bronx.
Sokunbi Olufemi, of Communications Workers of America Local 1182, puts all the blame on de Blasio, saying, “Our mayor is traveling all over the world and most states in America talking about payment equality, but he hasn’t fixed the roof in his own house,” Olufemi said. “His roof is leaking, and he refuses to fix it.”
Mayor admits that homelessness is a growing problem
On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that Mayor de Blasio admitted that the city has a growing homeless problem, and his concerns included 83 municipal employees living in shelters. He promised to move "aggressively" in finding them more permanent housing.
Responding to the assertion by the New York Post that 300 city employees live in shelters or on the streets, the mayor said through a spokesman that he would “aggressively work with the employees to help them find a path to housing permanency.”
De Blasio blamed the homeless problem on the economy. “People have been displaced from their homes by the high cost of housing, even if they’re working,” he said at City Hall.
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