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De Blasio Rebuff's Question on Homelessness: 'I'm in the Middle of a Workout'



Nathylin Flowers Adesegun has been working with Vocal-NY for more than 300,000 people units of affordable housing over a decade.

Mr. DE Blasio's plan calls for 5 percent of those units, or 15,000 apartments, to be set aside for homeless people. Vocal-NY wants him to double that.

Members of the group have called in the mayor's appearances on "The Brian Teachers Show" on the radio station WNYC, attended his town hall meetings and met with the agency commissioner who handles homelessness

On the Friday, they did what they wanted to grab the mayor's attention: They sought out Mr. de Blasio at the Prospect Park YMCA in Brooklyn, where he exercises most mornings.

Ms. Adesegun, who has lived in women's homeless shelters since she lost her apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn in 201

5, said on Saturday.

The 35-second encounter was captured on video by another Vocal-NY activist and posted on YouTube. In the video, Ms. Adesegun, 72, a retired office manager, walks to where Mr. de Blasio is seated in a butterfly stretch and says hello. She shakes hands with the mayor and squats

"Out of 300,000 units in your affordable housing program, only 5 percent will go to the homeless: Can you look me in the eye and tell me why?" Ms. Adesegun asks as Mr. de Blasio tries to cut it off.

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Nathylin Flowers Adesegun was shot as he was confronted with Mr. de Blasio about his plan to create and secure affordable housing.

m in the middle of doing my workout: Sorry, I can not do this now, "Mr. de Blasio says. Mr. de Blasio gets up to leave. "I'm not doing this here," the mayor says as he walks out with his phone in hand. "I'm in the middle of a workout."

He then heads down a stairwell.

Ms. Adesegun said on Saturday that she cared more about his workout than listening to her. Eric Phillips, Mr. de Blasio's press secretary, defended the mayor's decision to leave.

"People working out at the gym should not be worried they will be recorded in highly publicized, video-tapped political confrontations every morning," Mr. Phillips said. Homelessness has become one of the most vexing issues facing Mr. de Blasio.

The Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, says New York is in the midst of the worst homeless crisis since the Great Depression. The city's shelter just under 61,000 people, including more than 22,000 children. Mr. de Blasio has struggled to find locations in and out of a new homeless shelter. Mr. Phillips says 16 shelters have been opened so far.

Giselle Routhier, policy director of the Coalition, said the group started calling Mr. Blasio to increase the number of units in his housing plan a year ago.

"We still have near-record homelessness and it's not going down as much as it should be at all," Ms. Routhier said.

Over the course of his almost five years in office, Mr. de Blasio has been confronted at the Y.M.C.A. 4-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy who were struck by a driver a block from the gym

Mr. de Blasio sometimes stops to talk on average, the mayor encounters at least one protest per month at the gym, and, as he did with the group calling for traffic changes. Mr. Phillips said the mayor cared deeply about homelessness and had made strides in tackling a difficult issue.

Activists from Vocal NY have been invited to City Hall for a meeting.

"I did my deep breaths and did my." "The Ms. Adesegun said. "We are having a tremendous result."


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