New Yorkers Unhappy With de Blasio’s Handling of Fundraising Scandals and Homelessness, Poll Finds

A Quinnipiac University survey found widespread public discontent with Bill de Blasio twin scourges: corruption and homelessness.

Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor Bill de Blasio. Elsa/Getty Images

New Yorkers broadly disapprove of how Mayor Bill de Blasio has dealt with political corruption and the city’s swelling homelessness crisis, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released just one day after the mayor unveiled his latest proposals to reduce the shelter population and five days after he and his lawyers sat down with investigators to discuss a probe into his fundraising activities.

Pollsters discovered that a majority of the 1,001 residents of the five boroughs they spoke to reported seeing more homeless people on the streets, and nearly three-quarters of them called it a “very serious” problem. Most of those surveyed did not blame the needy people that approached them in public for their predicament, and 71 percent said that the city was not doing enough to assist them.

Overall, 55 percent of New Yorkers said they disapproved of how de Blasio has handled the issue, though the figure was 44 percent among members of his own party.

“Homelessness is a big problem, New Yorkers think. Their attitudes are a mixture of compassion and impatience,” said Maurice Carroll, assistant director for the poll.

Still, a plurality of people interviewed—and more than half of Democrats—said they believed the administration’s plan to spend $2 billion in the next year to combat the problem was appropriate.

The mayor has similar perception problems when it comes to political corruption, possibly a consequence of the parallel grand jury investigations into whether he and his aides violated campaign finance laws during their 2014 fundraising drive for the State Senate Democrats, and whether he traded city favors for donations to his now-defunct nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York. Just over half of New Yorkers said they view his handling of the problem negatively.

The issue evenly divides Democrats, but even de Blasio’s political base in the city’s minority communities views his performance unfavorably. Among blacks, 38 percent said they disapprove of how the mayor has dealt with corruption, while 37 percent approve—meanwhile, Hispanics break 46 percent to 37 percent against him.

As usual, the mayor’s numbers were weakest among whites: a full 61 percent said they disapproved of how he has dealt with corruption, compared to just 20 percent who said they approved.

Half of New Yorkers—and 40 percent of Democrats—told Quinnipiac they believed the mayor did favors for developers who gave money to his political efforts. A third said they thought he had broken the law, while 50 percent said they thought he had behaved unethically though not illegally.

The latter number swells to 60 percent among Democrats, while the former shrinks to just 14 percent.

More than half of Democrats, and 57 percent of the population overall, thought the mayor’s plan to pay his legal bills through a contributor-financed defense fund was an “ethical problem.” Incongruously, 52 percent of voters described the mayor as “honest and trustworthy.”

The results even seemed to perplex Carroll.

“How much of this stuff is just politics?” he wondered, speculating some of the findings might be the consequence of television footage showing de Blasio leaving his meeting with investigators on Friday.

Voters generally gave de Blasio high marks on crime and race relations. Interestingly, on almost all issues, the mayor’s worst approval ratings were among the youngest New Yorkers: the 18 to 34-year-old cohort, 68 percent of whom told pollsters they felt they could not afford to live in his city.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. De Blasio has maintained he acted “appropriately” in all his dealings with special interests. New Yorkers Unhappy With de Blasio’s Handling of Fundraising Scandals and Homelessness, Poll Finds