Bratton Says de Blasio Late to Address Homeless Problem

NEW YORK (AP) -

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday his boss had been late to acknowledge rising homelessness in New York City a day after the mayor announced an ambitious 15-year, $2.6 billion plan to combat the problem.

“A mistake the administration made early on was not validating what everyone was seeing,” Bratton said during a panel discussion sponsored by the conservative Manhattan Institute.

For months, tabloid accounts of homeless panhandlers, encampments and community complaints have made the issue of homelessness politically sensitive for Bill de Blasio. In August, he even denied there was a spike in homelessness.

But the numbers showed otherwise — there are nearly 58,000 people living in the city shelters, up about 13 percent from two years ago and both police reports and 311 complaints about homeless people are up this year from last. There are a few thousand more people believed to be living on the streets.

In response to criticism over his response to homelessness and his slumping poll numbers, the administration pledged to take action.