Mayor de Blasio tangled with callers to his weekly radio segment Friday, pushing back on criticism of his plans for new homeless shelters and to jack up the price of smoking.
Hizzoner treated callers to Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC a bit like reporters — they were limited to the topic of public health and safety, and he repeatedly challenged the premises of their queries.
The most heated exchange was with a caller who identified herself as Fior, a Crown Heights resident opposed to the building of a homeless shelter who said her area has 1,700 beds already, while the mayor’s Park Slope has just 330.
“I myself have sons and I want the same opportunities that his son Dante had,” the caller said. “And I’m sure the mayor wouldn’t have raised his son around 15 to 19 shelters.”
De Blasio noted there’s a shelter about four blocks from his family home, and that his old neighborhood would get new homeless beds under his plan to house homeless people within their own community board districts.
But communities like Crown Heights have argued they’re already overburdened with social service facilities, and Lehrer asked whether the plan puts more burden on low-income communities with more homelessness.
“If they’re unwanted,” de Blasio said of the shelters, “then that’s a moral question. How can people feel that their very own neighbors and people who grew up and have lived in that community for a long time are quote-unquote unwanted? I reject that.”
The caller argued she’d not seen any data proving the people who’d live in the shelter were from Crown Heights — prompting de Blasio to say she “doesn’t know her facts” and calling the argument, used elsewhere in the city, “a smokescreen.”