Mayor Bloomberg raised eyebrows with a remark Monday that "there aren't very many panhandlers left" in city subways.
Bloomberg, a billionaire who rides the subway accompanied by his security detail, made the remark during a news conference at City Hall about another matter.
A person asking about cell phone service in the subways mentioned panhandlers, and Bloomberg, appearing irritated, interrupted the question.
"There aren't very many panhandlers left, in all fairness to the MTA, come on," he said.
Bloomberg added that the MTA has "worked very hard to fix that."
Advocates for the homeless and hungry said panhandlers are common in the subways, and said Bloomberg is living in another world.
Joel Berg, head of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, called the remark "absurd" and said it "bears no relation to reality."
"I'd love to live in whatever city the mayor lives in -- it's an entirely different one from the one that I and eight million other New Yorkers live in."
Homelessness has reached record levels under Bloomberg's administration; more than 113,000 experienced homelessness last year, including 43,000 children, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.
Patrick Markee, of the Coalition for the Homeless, noted that, while all panhandlers are not homeless, and vice versa, Bloomberg's remarks "indiciate that he doesn't live in the same New York City as everyone else.