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Cuomo to present plan to combat rising homelessness

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during an event

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during an event as he announced changes to the New York subway system at the New York Transit Museum Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will use his State of the State address next week to detail his plan to combat homelessness statewide, but the point will be most directly aimed at New York City and, again, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“There are a number of times we have been told it is going to get better,” Cuomo said Friday at a Brooklyn news conference on mass transit issues. “But enough is enough.”

“I am going to fully address the homeless issue in my State of the State,” Cuomo said. “It is a sad, sad failure that we have people who in this day and age we leave on the streets . . . in frigid weather, who would rather stay on the streets and freeze than go into a homeless shelter because it’s dirty and dangerous.”

De Blasio, who has been sparring with Cuomo on the issue for weeks, blames the Cuomo administration for a role in the rise in homelessness by cutting state funding.

“Mayor de Blasio has put into place the country‘s most robust, comprehensive effort to address homelessness,” said the mayor’s press secretary, Karen Hinton. “His initiative follows draconian cuts by the state to the city’s rental assistance program in 2011, when housing costs began to spike; wages stagnated, and the homeless population began to soar even as the city faced more funding cuts. Those are the sad, sad facts.”

Cuomo’s aide had no immediate comment.

Days ago Cuomo issued an executive order for police and other authorities to take homeless people into shelters when the temperature hit freezing, a practice city officials said has been done for years. But the order was part of the Democratic governor’s narrative for weeks in which he said the homelessness problem in New York City, under the Democratic mayor, is worse than it has been in years.

De Blasio has contested that assessment, but has recently taken additional steps to address rising homelessness and to make shelters safer and cleaner while creating more housing.

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