Sunday, February 19, 2017

100 Thousand NYC Students Homeless & PA OKs $3.5B for New Bus Terminal

*New interactive map on homelessness levels in specific NYC schools -Thursday; same day: $Bs for new bus terminal
The spitfight between New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio and New York governor Andrew Cuomo is a distraction from the reality that they have the power to influence spending and construction priorities in New York City, yet they do little to use that power to address a mounting homelessness problem in the city.

The Port Authority on Thursday authorized a capital spending plan that would includes replacing the 40th to 42nd Street bus terminal with a new structure. However, the amNew York reports that this will not come near addressing the full tab for this: $10 billion.

This giant expenditure is questionable on a number of grounds.
Why are the supposedly progressive city and state executives not interceding against this and instead addressing the need for more affordable housing in New York City? The fact that the New York City Department of Education teaches a number of homeless children that equals a small city --100,000, according to numbers this past fall, as published in "The Homeless Crisis in New York City's Schools" -- is indicative of an absolutely outrageous condition. See this more recent report this week in DNAinfo, citing a new interactive map on the distribution of homeless students in New York City schools. The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness reported that if Chancellor Carmen Farina's New York City Schools' homeless students had their own district, the district would exceed the size of the Boston and Seattle school districts, combined.

Yet, there is no attention by mayor DeBlasio or governor Cuomo on this true emergency. (And do you think that charter schools are zealously seeking to pick up homeless children for seats in their schools, schools that Cuomo accommodates with regular increases in the charter school caps?)

And if the Port Authority wants to channel billions into a giant project, it should acknowledge that the bus terminal is adequate, as evidenced by the ample headtimes between buses in the terminal. It, and DeBlasio and Cuomo ought to support more urgent project needs such as building a new pair of train tunnels to replace the aging pre-World War I North River Tunnels of Amtrak that Amtrak and New Jersey Transit use to travel between Manhattan and Hudson County, New Jersey. (The walls and cables for the tunnels have been damaged by sea water, especially during the Hurricane Sandy storm.) Port Authority and the two politicians ought to lend their cooperation with politicians in New Jersey for extending the Metropolitan Transit Authority's 7 train to Union City, New Jersey. That city and the Hudson County cities adjacent to it are density packed cities, yet they lack speedy access to the Manhattan. The present options of bus or light rail travel to Hoboken are inadequate because their trips to the Hoboken terminal are too slow. Likewise, bus travel through the Lincoln Tunnel is unacceptably slow during rush hour. A 21st century metropolis should not have such slow transit options for the major population area that Hudson County is.

But this is all not a shock. DeBlasio has ignored the housing emergency, as he has favored new housing developments that absurdly bill themselves as mixed income when what they consider is modest income is truly at the upper 25 percent of incomes. And meanwhile the city is 550,000 units short of housing for families making under $45,000 per year.