Mayor-Elect de Blasio Addresses Inequality in New York City
- New York City 12/12/2013 by Linda Perry (WBAI)

photo: CUNY TV
"The growing inequality in New York City must be addressed forcefully and effectively." That's what  Mayor-Elect de  Blasio said opening his news conference today. He talked about homelessness and about Dasani, the young girl growing up in a filthy Brooklyn homeless shelter, profiled in the New York Times. He said her heartwrenching story gripped him and people he spoke with criss-crossing the city.  “It’s not that we didn’t know these problems exited before, but to see them through the eyes of one child and one family brings it home in a very forceful way.” De Blasio said, "We have to address the number of people in our shelters and go back to preventative programs." He appointed Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. She will lead the effort to reduce homelessness, build out health care efforts on the ground and cut red tape in social services.

Barrios-Paoli, quite a bit shorter than de Blasio, got up on a stepstool and said she wants to make the tale of two cities a tale of one city. “For a long time, there’s been a very negative perception of who the poor are, and we have mistreated them in many ways."  She said, "We have been punitive. We have assumed that people are poor just because they choose to be poor as opposed to because life happened to them. And I think we need to change that attitude. We need to understand who they are." Barrios-Paoli said she would have never cut homeless prevention. "You don’t stop prevention to save money. You end up spending at the end of the problem."

The new Deputy Mayor said the Department of Homeless Services spends hundreds of millions to house the homeless. "We can use money in a more creative way." She said to change that dynamic we need a more nuanced approach to housing subsidies.

Barrios-Paoli managed five City agencies under three mayors and is credited with innovative reforms. Mary Brosnaham with Coaltion for the Homeless said, “Lilliam is perhaps the best regarded and most seasoned leader in the social services arena. She is smart, dedicated and tireless – exactly the combination New York needs to reverse record homelessness and restore hope to our most vulnerable neighbors.”


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