Last week The Greater Harlem Coalition published total homeless shelter resident totals by borough. This post raised a question, however, on whether or not the per capita distribution of homeless shelter residents would show a different pattern or not.
The answer is no. Staten Island, even on a per capita basis, does not even remotely pull its fair share in the homeless crisis.
Recently, after years of struggle, The Greater Harlem Coalition was able to obtain data on homeless shelter populations at the community board level. The Department of Homeless Services has fought us for years, and resisted numerous FOIL requests, simply to protect the mayor and to justify the status quo where homeless sheters are eggregeously unfairly apportioned.
A quick look at the data below (from January 31, 2020) almost implies that New York has 4 boroughs.
Note how Staten Island has a virtually insignificant number of homeless shelter residents.
As many political observers have noted, Staten Island scares the bejeezus out of elected officials who are loathe to rile them up. (Recall that during the discussion regarding De Blasio’s plan to replace Rikers Jail with smaller, borough-based jails, Staten Island was somehow allowed to be the only borough that would not get a new jail.)
The powerful, conservative voting block/s on Staten Island, and the politicians on the Island and at City Hall who cater to them, shield that borough from pulling its fair share.
In 2018 Staten Island had 50% more premature drug-related deaths than Harlem, yet Harlem has 6 times the Opioid Treatment Program capacity. As a result, many Staten Islanders have to travel to other boroughs (and to Harlem, for example) for help in their struggle with addiction.