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First lady calls for increased aid for homeless

March 16, 2000
Web posted at: 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- First lady Hillary Clinton called Thursday for New York City to develop a "comprehensive strategy" to eliminate homelessness.

At a benefit for the Coalition for the Homeless, Clinton said she would fight to create more affordable housing, vouchers for low-income families and expanded treatment programs for homeless who are mentally ill.

Clinton is a candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, where she is expected to face New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the November election.

Without mentioning Giuliani by name, Clinton said "there are those" who believe in "criminalizing homelessness, who would rather punish poverty than lift people out of it."

Clinton criticized the mayor's record on fighting poverty: "New York now has the second highest rate of poverty in the United States. Poverty has gone down around the nation, and it has not gone down in New York City."

Giuliani refused comment on the first lady's remarks.

About 100,000 city residents become homeless -- some just temporarily -- in the course of a year, according to Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group. City shelters have a capacity for 23,000 beds.

Clinton said that, over the last two years, Congress approved 110,000 new housing vouchers to help low-income people pay rent. But in New York alone, 215,000 families are on the waiting list for such vouchers, with an average waiting period of eight years, she said.

Clinton pledged to Congress to triple the number of housing vouchers and target them to cities with the highest homeless rates.

"I don't believe creating a new massive bureaucracy would help to solve these problems," she said. "But I also don't believe ignoring the problem and leaving the people who are least able to do so to fend for themselves solves it either."

 
ELECTION 2000

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Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? Find out with these state political and election facts.

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Thursday, March 16, 2000


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