On the last day of 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo was quoted as saying the following in regards to homelessness in New York City: “We have severe challenges next year. There is nothing we cannot do if we focus on it. It is our apathy that stops us from solving these problems. There is no reason you have homeless people on the street in 2018. There’s no reason, but you choose to do nothing about it.”
According to the New York Post, Governor Cuomo was directing his comments towards Mayor De Blasio. For quite some time it has seemed to appear that NYC’s mayor and governor have not seen eye-to-eye on more than a few issues (to put it mildly). However, in the meantime, the citizens of the city are suffering from the dearth of affordable housing, and the soaring rate of homelessness. According to the news source, The Patch, Federal tallies have the number of New York City’s homeless currently at about 76,000 people.
The questions remain: Who is going to fix the problem? How? When?
There’s never a good time to be homeless, but this is an especially difficult time of the year to be without proper housing/shelter. It’s holiday season, and it’s brutally cold outside.
For the people who are “street homeless,” the arctic climate is dangerously foreboding. I’m gathering some winter garments to distribute to those who need them. If you are able to do so, please do the same. Come up with a plan with your family, co-workers, loved ones, etc. on how you can help someone who is out in the cold.
It doesn’t take a large organization, or great wealth, to help. Even if you help one person, that’s a great contribution! It doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Any small gesture is a great contribution to bettering the world.
If you are reading this and you are homeless, keep the faith. Don’t let any person, or circumstance, make you feel that you don’t deserve the best for yourself. This belief will help pull you through. Peace and love to you.
-The Homeless New Yorker
What happens when a homeless shelter administrator sexually harasses shelter residents? Check out the investigative report below on a Brooklyn homeless shelter where women have been allegedly sexually violated and abused by a “housing specialist.” This has been reportedly going on for YEARS at this particular shelter. Sadly, this is not surprising at all.
In the investigative report below, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) spokesperson is quoted as saying the following regarding the sexual abuse: “We have absolutely zero tolerance for this alleged behavior. We are in close collaboration with authorities, and we are seeking this individual’s termination.” His termination? How about his prosecution, and an investigation into a department that should have dealt with this very serious issue years ago? How about some sort of restitution, and services, for the victims? How about an intense clean-up, and scrubbing, of agencies that allow the city’s shelters to be run like corrupt prisons? SMH!!
[SIDEBAR: I wonder how long he has worked for DHS? Probably, quite some time; meaning years of violating and abusing vulnerable homeless women. Whenever you complain of the behavior of NYC homeless shelter staff/administrators, you are likely to be met with the rebuttal of how long the administrator/employee has worked for DHS. This is used as a protective shield by the person engaging in improprieties, and their higher-ups. As if their years of experience means that they are “in the right.” It only means that many NYC shelter administrators/employees are allowed to engage in all kinds of egregious activities with the backing of the agencies they work for. This makes it even more intimidating, and threatening, for homeless shelter residents to speak up. MR. MAYOR, and other public officials, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS? WHERE IS YOIR CALL TO ACTION?!]
Kudos to Jay Dow and his team for their continuously stellar work!!!
Going through homelessness is a life-altering experience that I will never forget. It has been 6 months since I exited the New York City homeless shelter system; a system that leaves its residents traumatized and “institutionalized” after enduring filthy/unhealthy conditions, debilitating red-tape protocols, inmate-like treatment, and shelter administrators/staff who ate far from altruistic.
It’s taken all of the past 6 months to try to shake off the institutionalized behaviors you are forced to conform to when you’re a resident of the NYC shelter system. It is no easy feat to restore yourself to your normal eating habits, exercise habits, work habits, and other day-to-day normalities after you finally exit the homeless shelter system. After 6 months of trying, I am still not back to all the way normal yet. After all, I experienced and witnessed some pretty extreme things while in the shelter system; things that one does not easily shake off.
There are some irreplaceable things that you will never get back. Without getting into personal specifics, if you are a homeless shelter resident, and you have family out of town, you can not readily tend to family emergencies that are out of your geographic sphere. (Shelter protocols and unwanted intrusiveness makes this extremely difficult, to say the least.) There is time with loved ones that you will never get back. (Again, traumatic and life changing stuff.)
However, despite, and because of, all of the negatives I experienced as a resident in the NYC homeless shelter system, I am seeking to use my experience to help others who are in the not to be forgotten situation I have recently escaped from.
Since leaving the shelter system, I have petitioned the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to receive my files. I wanted to see exactly how these agencies saw fit to document my tenure in their system. Receipt of these files would also serve as a great learning tool into how the system operates, in addition to evidencing how accurately these agencies recorded my dealings and communications with them.
When I finally got my file from DHS, it was chock full of falsities and omissions. In regards to my HRA file, to this day, HRA has still not provided me with something other than a half-page document, which took months to receive.
I attempted to get my DHS and HRA files with the assistance of an attorney, and still, I had to wait an inordinate amount of time to receive the fragmentary files that I got. (The attorney stated that in their experience, this was the longest anyone had to wait to get their files.)
I will continue to speak out about my experiences in the NYC homeless shelter system in the hopes that there will be forthcoming, positive changes. I also want the people who are going through what I went through to know that they are not alone, nor are they imagining the unbelievably egregious things that they are experiencing in the system.
I want people who have, fortunately, not experienced the horrors of the NYC shelter system to know what really goes on. I want to debunk the stereotypes that are associated with homelessness.
I will continue to share my experiences. I will continue to research. I will continue to push for changes, and I hope others will too.
Despite all of the historical injustices that my ancestors have endured here, I have love for this city. I love my community, and the people who have bravely strived. I seek to honor them with my efforts.
-The Homeless New Yorker
In a recent New York Daily News editorial, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio stated the following:
“Wherever I go, I meet folks who are doing everything right- working hard, making a decent salary and trying to build a better life. In the New York I moved to 40 years ago, that was enough to feel economically secure.
The city had a lot of problems back then, but finding an affordable place to live wasn’t one of them.
It would have been hard to imagine a city where more than half of our people spend more on rent than they can afford, where entire neighborhoods slip out of reach of working families, where even people we once considered solidly middle class ask themselves: Can we still afford to live here?
Well, let me be clear: It’s New York that can’t afford to lose people like you.
This has to be a place where seniors, veterans, working families and the middle class can all afford to live. Otherwise, it’s not New York anymore.” -NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio
Charity organization, Action Hunger, has come up with a ground-breaking idea to dispense food and toiletries to the homeless. The organization plans to stock free vending machines with everyday necessities such as: water, fruit, sandwiches, light snacks, lotion, socks, toothpaste, etc. Each machine will reportedly allow up to 100 homeless people to receive three items per day.
The vending machines will be able to be accessed by homeless people who have received a chip-based key card. According to The New York Post, the pilot program that will launch the machines will commence in Nottingham, in the United Kingdom. The New York Post states that the BBC has reported that Action Hunger “has plans to install similar vending machines for the homeless in other big cities like London, New York City, Seattle, and Los Angeles.”
According to a New York Daily News article, the New York City Housing Authority erroneously sent 1,424 residents a letter threatening “termination of tenancy.” NYCHA officials have reportedly chalked-up the letters mistakenly sent to residents as being a “computer glitch.”
The letters, understandably, sent terror through residents who feared their housing was in jeopardy. One NYCHA tenant is quoted by the NY Daily News as saying: “The wording of the letter is so threatening. They should not do this. They don’t know how this emotionally kills a person. I did not sleep at all…My blood sugar was very high in the morning.”
To add insult to injury, the residents received the letter close to Election Day, and were unable to communicate with NYCHA’s management offices due to the offices being closed for the holiday.
Hopefully NYCHA is taking steps to right their wrong. Hopefully, those steps will exceed a pat apology.
Yesterday, legislation was passed by NYC’s City Council that will require that the city trains homeless shelter staff on how to administer naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
The new bill requires that at least one homeless shelter staff member who is knowledgeable about how to use a naloxone kit must be on duty at all times. According to the New York Daily News, the bill also states that the city must “come up with a plan to train homeless shelter residents who are likely to cross path (sic) with opioid addicts to use naloxone.”
The city’s homeless shelters are rife with drug abuse; an issue that shelter administrators failed to address, or curtail, in all of the shelters where I was once a resident. In my experience, shelter residents were able to use drugs incessantly with impunity. It didn’t matter to shelter administrators that the drug use was rampant, and making non-drug users sick from the ever-present drug fumes.
In the shelters where I resided, shelter residents were able to do drugs in the shelters around-the-clock with nary a shelter employee intervening. (Shouldn’t shelter administrators have intervened at some point and mandated a treatment program for the obvious users?)
What the city needs to take into account in their implementation of this new legislation is that you can’t expect the same people who allow certain behaviors to proliferate to all of a sudden care enough to save a life because you put a medical kit in their hands, and pay them to attend a training class. The system needs to be revamped. That means extirpating a slew of shelter employees who negligently do their jobs.
Homeless New Yorker