Alexander Peterson for Mayor of New York City

(picture removed)

I am running for Mayor to solve New York City's homelessness problem and to begin solving affordable housing problem. I am registered with New York City Campaign Finance Board as a write-in candidate.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction: how I became homeless.
  2. Current homeless shelter system.
  3. From Commissioner to Mayor.
  4. What makes me think I can be a Mayor?
  5. Where will I open new homeless shelters?
  6. What is my plan for reforming homeless shelter system?
  7. How much more money will I need for a better shelter system?
  8. Management method.
  9. My opinions on some of New York City issues.
  10. City of New York Web site.
  11. City Hall Park statues.
  12. Feuding with the Governor and resisting the President.
  13. Subway.
  14. Reduced fare Metrocards.
  15. Affordable housing.
  16. Conclusion.
  17. Donations.
  18. Contact information.
  19. Afterword.

  1. Introduction: how I became homeless.
  2. I was laid off while working for a large company as a computer programmer. Because of an error in papers issued by New York State Department of Labor, I failed to qualify for unemployment benefits. That came as a surprise I was not prepared for. I defaulted on my rent, lost my apartment, and became homeless.
    In the City of New York homeless shelter system, I was due for another surprise: you can get a bed there, but you can't get any sleep in that bed. It's madness all night long. Shelter clients whose beds are next to yours talk, scream, argue, fight, sing, dance, play musical instruments, play boomboxes at the highest volume level, sometimes all night long, watch TV, play video games, talk on cell phones, wash clothes in a bucket (you wake up in the middle of the night to the smell of Clorox), have seizures, drink, smoke, do gymnastic exercises, have parties... I witnessed all that. Forget about getting back on your feet. When you get between two and five hours of sleep per night, you begin to uncontrollably fall asleep during the day, sometimes in a standing position (I never thought that was possible!).
    The best thing that happened to me in the homeless shelter system was that they finally kicked me out, because I complained too much. I became a so called "street homeless", sleeping in transportation facilities, and that's where I finally was able to get as much sleep as I needed. I even started to accomplish things during the day that could get me out of homelessness. That didn't last long, though. It all ended after the current Mayor took office.

  3. Current homeless shelter system.
  4. I once witnessed a Coalition For The Homeless case manager talking on the phone to one of his clients. The homeless client was screaming, and the case manager said: "Hold on a minute. You are getting aggravated, because you don't know how the system works. They don't care!"
    The current Mayor, since taking office four years ago, has been implementing a simple, elegant solution to the homelessness problem, also known as "war of attrition": kick homeless people out of any place where he finds them--without providing any other place to sleep--and gradually retake the territory of all five boroughs from the homeless.
    The Mayor acts as if it never occurred to him that humans need eight hours of sleep per night, every night. The Department of Homeless Services, which the current Mayor merged with Human Resources Administration (a wrong move, I'll separate them again) operates based on weird theories developed by purported homeless advocates, and they never bother to check if those theories work in practice.
    I don't think they even understand who the homeless are. The majority of homeless people have some kind of a physical or mental disability. These are sick people who need sleep and are not getting it. If somebody told you about a society where people throw the sick ones on the street and then don't let them sleep, you would probably think about Cambodia, and wouldn't expect to find this happening right here in New York City.
    Speaking of weird theories, here is an example of a theory NYPD Commissioner used to explain why they were unable to get the homeless out of the subway: "easy availability of food and money" attracts homeless people there. I have a lot of experience in getting free food, and I can tell you that subway is not where it comes from. As far as money, I don't know if subway is better for begging than the street during the day, but any person with common sense will tell you that there is no availability of either food or money in the subway--or anywhere else--in the middle of the night. What attracts homeless people to the subway is convoluted availability of sleep. By the way, does anybody realize that sleep deprivation is considered by the U.S. government to be a form of torture?
    I haven't even begun to describe all the problems in homeless shelters, but I am not writing a complaint. I am running for Mayor to change the system, so New York City's homeless shelters, instead of circuses and concentration camps that they are now, would become serious businesses, operated in a civilized manner. Besides, if I started to describe the problems in detail, I would be making frequent references to the movie "Schindler's List", and I would need to make sure everybody saw the movie first.

  5. From Commissioner to Mayor.
  6. It bothered me tremendously that all of this was happening for no good reason whatsoever. I could see simple things that, if implemented, could solve most of the homeless shelters' problems. I would just need to be in a position with enough authority to make changes to the system, and the only such position is a Department of Homeless Services Commissioner.
    I understood, of course, that nobody was going to appoint me as Commissioner, and one day it occurred to me, why not try to run for Mayor? I can write a plan and post it on the Web. After all, I noticed long time ago that when people get over fifty, they begin to feel an urge to write books. Also, remember how Jesse Ventura got elected Mayor and later became a Governor?
    My area of expertise is electronic engineering and computer programming. I could certainly manage Department of Homeless services, since I already have a new system in mind and I know what I want to do. I realize that Mayor's job is different (a Mayor is a politician). But the advantages of being a Mayor are substantial. First, reforming homeless shelter system will require making changes to numerous City departments, which only a Mayor can do. Second, if you are a Mayor, you don't need to get anybody's approval, you can just go ahead and implement your changes.
    Take, for example, the problem of homeless people sleeping in transportation facilities. Under the current system, or rather lack thereof, nobody is happy. The commuters are not thrilled by the homeless being there, the homeless don't get the sleep they need, and Allied Universal security guards are having the time of their lives demonstrating that they are superior to homeless people. If elected Mayor, on my second day in office I will have a meeting with Department of Transportation Commissioner, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner and Police Commissioner, and beginning that night, they will already have a new system in transportation facilities.
    Then, on my third day in office, I will have a meeting with directors of all homeless shelters, and the next day they will begin to make changes to the system. We have over a hundred shelters, so this will be a big project that could last a year.

  7. What makes me think I can be a Mayor?
  8. The short answer is, I can make good decisions. I've had a very interesting life, well beyond the scope of this writing, and after going through all kinds of experiences--homelessness being only a small part of it--I accumulated enough wisdom.

  9. Where will I open new homeless shelters?
  10. One of the questions people will be asking a Mayor is: where do you intend to open new shelters? The answer is, wherever I find a suitable building. Such buildings are not likely to be found in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Buildings like hotels, with dozens of little dorms, are not suitable for homeless shelters, because they are unmanageable. I will be converting such buildings back to hotels. The buildings I'll be looking for are more commercial in nature, where entire floors can be used as big rooms. I don't know if homeless shelters could literally be placed in commercial areas, because of zoning laws, but that's the direction I'll be going. In any case, there will be no hanging out by shelter clients in front of the buildings, and contact information will be posted, so people living in the neighborhood could call and get an immediate response if there is a problem. I will implement other ideas, too.
    The current Mayor recently announced his intention to open ninety new homeless shelters. Why so many? Does he intend to use very small buildings?... The Mayor also said he believed homeless people were better positioned to find permanent housing if they were placed in shelters close to neighborhood anchors, like schools and churches. I'm curious, what research is that based on? Under my management, homeless people in all five boroughs will be finding permanent housing through one centralized office. That will make way more sense than the current system, where each shelter works with its own housing providers, some providers work with multiple shelters, and nobody knows exactly who works with whom.

  11. What is my plan for reforming homeless shelter system?
  12. I had a lot of time to think how I would change the current system, and at this point, I have a detailed plan in my mind. I could take a few weeks and write a long paper describing a coherent homelessness policy. Here, I will say briefly that before we do anything, we'll need to reverse what the current Mayor has done and go back to the (convoluted) system we had under Mayor Bloomberg. After that, the first stage will be to make very substantial changes to shelter rules and significant changes to shelter personnel, after which, for the first time, homeless shelter clients will be able to actually sleep; the second stage will be to tell the street homeless that now it is possible to sleep in the shelters, after which they will be more than happy to get off the streets and become shelter clients; the next stage will consist of three separate projects: working on affordable housing problem, figuring out housing solutions for those whose mental problems are serious enough to prevent them from maintaining their own apartments, and figuring out at what point we'll have to start charging people rent for using homeless shelters. I fully expect that once homeless shelters become civilized places, some people will want to save the thousands of dollars they pay to their landlords, give up their apartments, and sleep in shelters. I don't know at what level of income we should start charging rent, and I am thinking about determining an exact number through a referendum.

  13. How much more money will I need for a better shelter system?
  14. I'll need less money (per shelter). I know from my own experience how much redundancy and inefficiency they have in the shelter system. The City spends so much money per year on each homeless family, it doesn't make any sense. You could give half of that money to the families in cash, and they will be able to go out and rent their own apartments at the market rates.

  15. Management method.
  16. When I was employed as a computer programmer, my supervisor used to tell me: "See, you fixed the problem, and I didn't even need to get involved". That's how I like to do things. As a manager, I will surround myself with people who know what they are doing, so they will be making all the right decisions and solving all the problems on their own.

  17. My opinions on some of New York City issues.
  18. I have an opinion on many issues--high speed ferries to Rockaways, streetcar linking Brooklyn and Queens, relocation of Madison Square Garden, horse carriage industry, motorized bicycles, Citi Bike--but I don't want to make this text too long, so I'll address just a couple of issues below.

  19. City of New York Web site.
  20. Are you sick and tired of trying to use the Internet and getting messages like "Your browser is no longer supported", "You need to download and install an application", "Your must upgrade your operating system"? Last month, I tried to connect to Access HRA (, and got an error message: "The connection to was interrupted while the page was loading." Why do we need to install and maintain all this monstrosity just to read a simple text file? The more complicated the system gets, the more difficult it is to maintain it, the more loopholes appear, and the system is guaranteed to become slower as it gets bigger.
    The City of New York Web site is intended for business. All it does is provide information in a text form. Text files can be shown quickly and easily in a browser's window, are compatible with all browsers, and a text-based Web site can be very fast, not to mention that it is much easier to search and copy text files than PDF and DOC files.
    I will not be doing computer programming as Mayor, but I will take the opportunity to instruct programmers to downgrade New York City's Web site, which will cause it to become simple and fast. My goal will be--although I am not sure it could be achieved with the current technology--to make the City's Web site so simple that it could be viewed using Netscape Navigator (remember that?). I will challenge the programmers: "Right now, Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 51, or Chrome 56 is required; let's see how much we can downgrade it."

  21. City Hall Park statues.
  22. The current Mayor's most recent campaign is against statues on city property that may be considered "symbols of hate". I do not believe in rewriting history, and do not think this review of statues is necessary. The Mayor already considered removing the Christopher Columbus statue from Columbus Circle. At what point does it become absurd?
    I can tell you which statues I will remove. It's the weird statues, nominated as art, that they have been placing over the City Hall Park. When I first saw them years ago, under former Mayor Bloomberg, I was not amused, and I said to myself: "Bloomberg should stick with his stock charts and not venture into art". I'll remove all statues / exhibits from the park, and it will look much better with only trees and grass.

  23. Feuding with the Governor and resisting the President.
  24. I once read about an American who traveled all over the world and had an opportunity to visit all the "rogue" countries--Cuba, Iran, North Korea--and he said he noticed a pattern: every authoritarian regime uses some kind of an internal or external enemy to justify its existence.
    The current Mayor, being a skilled politician, understands that he needs something to draw people's attention away from his failure of leadership in reducing homelessness. He needs to show that he is doing something, somewhere--and he got an excellent target in Donald Trump. You get an impression from reading New York City's newspapers that Trump is an incarnation of evil whom the current Mayor is protecting us from. Not to mention the Governor, whom the current Mayor was feuding with from the beginning.
    Let me ask: on you job, whatever it might be, did you ever try to resist the manager, and if you did, how did you like the result? Some people like Donald Trump, some don't, but he is the President, so what are we going to do for the next three years, resist him? I have better ideas.
    The Governor has higher authority than the Mayor. There is no point in giving the Governor a hard time, trying to challenge his authority. Likewise, resisting the President makes about as much sense as resisting your boss. I intend to work together with the Governor and the President, regardless of who he is, for the benefit of the City of New York.

  25. Subway.
  26. I am frustrated, just as everybody else, by a complete lack of progress in building new subway stations. They finished three new stations last year, but after that, there is nothing on the horizon for years to come. I have some ideas on how to make them stop talking and start digging. You'll find out about those ideas on my first day in office. My goal will be to have somebody start digging something next year and not the year 2019 or the year 2022.

  27. Reduced fare Metrocards.
  28. I do support a program offering reduced price MetroCards to New Yorkers with incomes below the poverty level. The program is estimated to cost $200 million annually, and City Council is asking for $50 million for a pilot program. The current Mayor is refusing to commit any money to it. My position is, if it's as easy as adding $200 million to an $85 billion budget, I will give the City Council $200 million for a full program.

  29. Affordable housing.
  30. When Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, one of the first things he did was cut people's rents in half. I wish it was that easy. In this country, prices are determined by supply and demand, and demand for housing will be high after people read about my homeless experience in New York City.
    There is no solution to affordable housing problem that would satisfy all sides. Clearly, the system should be made more equitable than it is now. If you let rent be determined strictly by market forces, the system will function according to "survival of the fittest" principle that is not acceptable in human society. There has to be some method, some regulation that would make rent lower than the number determined by the free market. The tenants will be happy about such regulation, the landlords will not. The challenge is devise the least disruptive system.
    My proposal is to figure out a few options through research and then let people decide which way of lowering rent they prefer through a formal or informal referendum. I will not have propaganda events, where the Mayor announces that he allocated $1.6 billion for "future" affordable housing, and the Governor follows up by pledging $20 billion statewide. I am interested in researching what people do about affordable housing in other cities and countries. Maybe somebody already has a good solution, so we won't need to reinvent the wheel?

  31. Conclusion.
  32. Former Mayor Bloomberg tried to solve New York City's homelessness problem for twelve years, the current Mayor tried to do it for almost four years, and by now, the situation is the worst I can remember. Recently, in the course of a Democratic Primary debate, the current Mayor said that reducing homelessness will be "a long battle".
    Your Honor, you are being too modest. You almost won already! As I was writing a draft of this plan over the warm and very humid weekend preceding the Fourth of July, I witnessed homeless people outside a transportation facility, barely alive, unable to sleep because of astronomical humidity, while the air conditioned passenger waiting room with 3500 person capacity, which the homeless were ejected from, stayed empty all night, and victory announcements were played over the loudspeakers, repeating every five minutes that nobody shall remain in the waiting room, because it is for transportation purposes only.
    The Mayor also admitted that he "tried his best". So... ? Now let somebody, who knows better what he is doing, fix the homelessness problem in New York City.

  33. Donations.
  34. When you hear that someone else is allowed to have only three hours of sleep per night, it's kind of abstract, but how would you feel--and how would you react--if this was happening to you? A lot of people don't realize what's going on in New York City's homeless shelters. You contributions will let me advertise and bring attention to this outrage.

    In accordance with campaign finance rules, contributions must include donor's name and address, and for contributions over $99, employment information. Contribution limit is $4950, or $400 for those listed in Campaign Finance Board's database of individuals who do business with the City of New York. Contributions are accepted from individuals, but not from corporate entities such as LLC / LLP / Inc. / Ltd. Please refer to New York City Campaign Finance Board for details.

  35. Contact information.
  36. Twitter:
    I don't intend to actively tweet as Mayor (isn't it nice to have an elected official once in a while who doesn't tweet?) and will use Twitter primarily for messaging. Anyone can send me a message, whether business-related or personal, at


    but I do not guarantee a reply, and may not be able to always read all messages. Please note that if you want to receive direct messages FROM me, you need to whether follow me or to set up your Twitter account to receive messages from anyone.

  37. Afterword
  38. The 2017 mayoral election is over, and nothing changed. The war on the homeless will continue for another four years.
    I'll have to make an adjustment to some of my views. I knew people didn't care about the homeless, but I'm afraid I didn't realize to what extent.
    During the campaign, I gave this Web address to Coalition for the Homeless and to a number of people I knew, and placed an ad in AM New York newspaper (it costs a fortune to run an ad like that even for one day).
    In total, only about fifty people viewed this site. Nobody ever contributed anything, sent any messages, shared this Web site with others, or acknowledged reading it.
    There are animal abuse laws on the books which can send people to jail for a year. Wherever animals are utilized by people (in horse carriage industry, for example), animal rights activists appear and claim that the animals are "exploited". There are demonstrations, lawsuits, and TV coverage. I can only imagine what would happen if animal rights activists found out that horses are systematically deprived of sleep in their stables. But when somebody writes on a Web site that homeless people are systematically deprived of sleep, which, according to the government, is a form of torture, people don't even acknowledge reading it. People knew that all along. That's how they want it.