Photo by Guillaume Federighi.
Former New York City Council speaker and 2013 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has become one of New York City’s leading homeless advocates. Currently the CEO of Win, a nonprofit serving thousands of homeless families across the city, Quinn sat down with City & State editors Nick Powell and Gerson Borrero to discuss Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new homelessness plan to build 90 shelters across New York City – and why she's playing nice with her former rival.
C&S: You’ve endorsed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new homelessness policy. Why are you playing nice?
CQ: Let’s pull the lens out a little bit. We need more shelters in this city. And he said he was going to do that.
C&S: What about the need for more permanent housing?
CQ: The problem with that as the overall answer is it’s a little bit of a simplified vision of how we get to the solution. We need permanent housing. But to build permanent housing takes time, right? So what are we going to do with folks in the meantime? We need to have them in places that are not hotels, not clusters, that are not “three hots and a cot.” But safe places where we can have services for them – and in my case, with Win, because we host families with children – for the children. Because they’ve been through and are going through the trauma of homelessness, which is not just not having a roof over your head. It’s domestic violence, etc., etc.
"Call it purple/pink. I don’t give a shit. We can’t come out of this legislative session in Albany with no agreement."
C&S: With the absence of a new “New York/New York” agreement, there’s a lack of coordination between the city and state governments. Is that serving homeless New Yorkers well?
CQ: We don’t have any agreement. So for me, it’s not so much New York/New York. We need an agreement. And that’s the problem. If people didn’t like the old one – whatever. Call it purple/pink. I don’t give a shit. We can’t come out of this legislative session in Albany with no agreement.
C&S: Would a Mayor Quinn have done what Mayor de Blasio is doing right now?
CQ: I hope I would have addressed the crisis more aggressively, more quickly. I hope I wouldn’t have spent time blaming somebody else. I would have called for opening more shelters earlier on. And I would have done it.