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Cold welcome home for parolees


It’s been a year since Mayor de Blasio unveiled plans to build 90 homeless shelters in every corner of the city — and delivered a pat diagnosis of why demand was growing ever greater:

“It’s more and more an economic problem. Working people becoming homeless; families in record numbers ending up in shelter; people who don’t have any mental health challenges or substance abuse challenges, never been incarcerated, still ending up in shelter. That’s what we’re seeing.”

That was then. Like a certain President driven to mouth-foaming by the latest “Fox and Friends” segment, our mayor suddenly vents outrage over a rough truth exposed by dogged reporting from NY1: Parolees from state prisons are surging into city shelters, with 4,122 sent there last year, up from 2,152 at the start of de Blasio’s first term.

They are more likely shown to a cot in drug-infested barracks or a bed in a pricey hotel room than a specialized residence to help ex-offenders.

A year too late, facts force departure from the mayor’s noble-progressive-warrior script. Now he says of the parole parade: “This is exacerbating our homelessness problem.”

That’s an understatement: Roughly one in five of all the new arrivals in adult shelters last year was a parolee, accounting for most of an influx that brought 20,000 men and women to check in at some point.

In a lather de Blasio now offers a revised diagnosis: “All I know is the state is dumping these parolees right into our shelters. That’s not fair. The state needs to step up and give these parolees some actual support.”

Again he misleads, in ways that hardly help those leaving prison grope toward stability.

Time was, parole officers sent many clients to low-cost hotels called S.R.O.s; they are no more. Then, they went to so-called three-quarter houses. In 2015, after revelations of dreadful conditions, exploitation of addicted residents and Medicaid fraud, de Blasio demanded the state stop three-quarter house referrals.

And formed a task force to find new homes for residents, without much thought for those coming out of prison behind them. Only this past December did the city homeless agency start helping parole officers steer clients away from shelters.

The state could also step up its game, through a broad rent subsidy proposed by Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi that would enable three-quarter houses to return as legitimate operations.

But if de Blasio wants parolees to find a better landing spot, it’s on him to decide where and how. He should start by being honest about the problem.