Poll: NYers Pan City's Homeless Policy, Support Shelter Time Limits

Only one in four survey respondents approve of the mayor's handling of homelessness, even though most say they haven't seen an increase in homelessness under the mayor.

New Yorkers overwhelmingly disapprove of Mayor Bloomberg's handling of homelessness, and most believe shelter should be provided regardless of where a person comes from, a new survey finds.

The poll of roughly 1,000 New York City adults—conducted over the summer at the behest of the Institute on Children, Poverty and Homelessness—finds that a third of Bronx residents and nearly two in five black New Yorkers knows someone who recently became homeless. One in 10 Bronx residents has spent at least one night in a homeless shelter, double the rate for the other boroughs.

Roughly half of survey respondents approved of the mayor's overall performance but less than a quarter approve of his work on homelessness, which Bloomberg early in his mayoralty promised to dramatically reduce.

However, only 28 percent of respondents noticed a rise in homelessness during Bloomberg's time office—suggesting that the 61 percent increase in shelter population is less visible than street homelessness, which according to official counts has decreased since 2005.

By a narrow margin, 51-44 percent, respondents preferred allowing people access to shelter regardless of where they come from over restricting it to residents from the local region. Fifty-seven percent of respondents favored time limits for shelters, and most respondents believed increased job training—not more rent subsidies—is the answer to the homelessness problem. This may reflect a widespread belief that homelessness is a problem of unemployment, which is sometimes—but certainly not always—the case.