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Homeless on Cruise Ships? (New York, NY)
by FROM NEWSPAPER Thursday November 21, 2002 at 10:44 PM

New York puting homeless on cruise ships

Oddly Enough - Reuters

Homeless in Cruise Ships??
Thu Nov 21, 9:27 AM ET Add Oddly Enough - Reuters to My Yahoo!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Faced with the worst homeless crisis in New York's history, officials are considering whether cruise ships tied up at city docks could be used as temporary housing.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said two officials were visiting Bermuda on Wednesday to examine some retired cruise ships as authorities sought ways to house a record 37,000 people who sleep in city-run shelters every night.

"We are thinking outside of the box," a spokesman for Bloomberg said. "We have to consider all the options."

The number of people sleeping in city shelters every night, not counting street-dwellers, has risen by 25 percent since Bloomberg became mayor at the beginning of the year.

They include 16,500 children from 9,000 families forced into the shelters because of the economic recession and a cut in housing-assistance money by 40 percent.

Advocates for the homeless were not enthusiastic about the cruise ship plan.

"My first reaction was I thought I'd heard it all," said Patrick Markee, policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, which sued the city earlier this year when it housed scores of families in an unused jail in the Bronx.

A judge ordered the homeless people out of the former jail after 45 days when advocates complained the former Bronx House of Detention was unsuitable for families and there was the potential for lead paint poisoning.

"I think New Yorkers will ask themselves whether there are better and cheaper alternatives and the answer is yes," Markee said. "Housing assistance is cheaper and certainly costs less than what it is going to take to renovate cruise ships."

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