America never had a homeless problem until President Ronald Reagan decided to support businesses in America and cut services to the poor (in the 1980s).
Now we have over 50,000 homeless people living in city shelters in NY City - the 'greatest' city in the world and one of the 'wealthiest' cities in the world.
Scott Stringer is a politician in New York City who wants to become mayor (the leader of the city). He wrote this letter to the Daily News to attack the current mayor and to try to show that he can help end the homeless problem in NY City.
Here's an article about this (Stringer's letter to the newspaper - Stringer is currently the NY City Comptroller...it is his job to make sure money is spent properly in NY City):
Vocabulary to help you understand the article:
all hands on deck - this is a term from the Navy meaning - we have a crisis, everyone needs to get involved!
sustained economic recovery - a recovery which is lasting; yet, how can you have a recovery and 50,000 homeless people at the same time? Whom is the 'recovery' benefiting?
a shelter - a building owned by the government where homeless people can sleep safely (although it's not always safe in government shelters)
head to their school - go to their schools
with one hand tied behind their backs - meaning they will have some difficulties learning because they are experiencing trouble in regard to housing
to blame someone - to say that someone has done something wrong
catastrophe - a horrible situation
slashed funding - cut funding, reduced funding
balked - showed hesitation
a rental assistance program - giving money to people to pay their rent
a unforeseeable emergency - the people who run the city are acting as if they had no idea this problem was happening
the blame game - I didn't do this - you did this! What? Me? No way - you did this!
soared - increased
ample - enough
eviction - to be thrown out of your home because you can't pay rent
root causes - what is really causing homelessness
ad hoc - temporary
piecemeal - not thorough, an approach that just does a little here and a little there
lax oversight and quality control - nobody is making sure people are safe and nobody seems to be in charge or in control of the quality
rat-infested hovels - really dirty places that have rats (they are like mice but bigger - dirty little animals with long tails)
to be off the table - to be out of consideration
facilitating - making easier
foreclosure - when a bank takes away a house because a person couldn't pay a monthly fee for it
leverage assets - use assets
boosting - increasing
an audit - an investigation
a spectrum - a range of things
vacant - empty