Tuesday’s City Council hearing confirmed it: After three years, ThriveNYC officials can barely show how the program has helped anyone or how it spends its $250 million a year. It’s time to pull the plug, and put the money to better use.
On Wednesday, Thrive founder and First Lady Chirlane McCray dismissed Thrive’s critics with “Haters gonna hate.” It was a pathetic followup to her sad showing the day before, when council members questioned her to see if the mental-health program is working but came away with little new information. McCray insists the program keeps “metrics,” but failed to provide any data.
“We have solid numbers,” she said. The problem is “what people define as a solid number.” Besides, the issue is “people” and “not numbers.” That’s her answer?
That left her audience at their wit’s end: “We know as little about the program after the hearing as we knew before,” complained Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx). “There is no evidence it’s working.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says “a lot of questions” still need answering — three years after Mayor de Blasio and McCray rolled out what she then vowed would be a “turning point” in mental health.
Meanwhile, mentally troubled individuals make up many of the homeless on city streets. Cops, not mental-health experts, have to handle “emotionally disturbed persons.”
Torres says he’s willing to shut down ineffective programs. OK: So do it. Get the council to shift Thrive funds to initiatives that make a difference, such as adding new NYPD teams available for EDP calls or treatment facilities for mentally ill homeless.
City Hall set up Thrive mostly to beef up the first lady’s résumé. Much of its work is just routing funds and hotline-callers to agencies that actually deal with the mentally ill. The city doesn’t need a big program for that.
In response to McCray’s “haters” line, Torres fumed that City Council oversight isn’t “hate,” but “tough love.” Please, Ritchie: Show the love, and shut Thrive down.
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