New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is catching heat over an interaction with a homeless activist in which he told the woman he couldn’t talk to her because he was working out.
A video uploaded to YouTube shows de Blasio stretching at a Brooklyn YMCA on Thursday when 72-year-old Nathylin Flowers Adesegun approaches him.
She shakes de Blasio’s hand and begins to talk to him about the city’s housing program, when de Blasio says, “I’m in the middle of doing my workout,” and, “Sorry, I can’t do this now,” before walking away.
Adesegun is an activist with VOCAL-NY, an advocacy group for low-income residents in New York state. According to Bklyner, the group is involved with the Coalition for the Homeless’ House Our Future campaign, which is asking de Blasio to commit to increasing the 15,000 housing units to be created for homeless people to 30,000. As of August, CFTH said, there were about 62,000 people sleeping in the city’s shelter system each night, including around 22,000 children.
“I am 72 years old and have been homeless for three years, but he made it clear that his morning workout was more important to him,” said Adesegun in a statement from VOCAL-NY.
Adesegun was among dozens of people from VOCAL-NY who had come to the YMCA specifically to demand that the city commit to creating 30,000 housing units for homeless New Yorkers, according to Park Slope Patch. Footage shows a group of demonstrators outside the YMCA attempting to confront de Blasio as he leaves.
The incident has garnered coverage from local and national media and led to criticism from advocates.
“Mayor de Blasio may love working out, but his plan for housing homeless New Yorkers is just weak,” said Coalition for the Homeless policy director Giselle Routhier in a statement sent to multiple media outlets. “This is simply unacceptable and perpetuates the ‘Tale of Two Cities’ he vowed to fix.”
De Blasio’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment from HuffPost.