Update On My Pending Chattel Slavery-Like Ship-Out: Part 1

slave-ship

CLICK HERE for an overview, and first blog post, regarding my family’s pending “administrative transfer.” Please read this post first for a more comprehensive understanding of this situation.

Although my family was supposed to be forcibly moved from our shelter, without our consent, on November 18th; we have yet to be moved from our current shelter. However, the move is still pending.

Since the last time I addressed this issue on this blog, I have met with the director of my shelter regarding our forced, unexplained pending move. During the meeting, she did not give me any definitive answers as to where my family would be moved to or why. The only vague, raison d’etre she gave me for the sudden, unexpected pending move was that I had expressed “concerns” and “wrote letters.” She tried to guard her speech by constantly answering my queries with refrains of: “I don’t know,” and “I wouldn’t say that,” and “That’s the system.” However, she did make some puzzling statements when she wasn’t dodging basic questions that she should have provided answers to. (I’ll discuss that more in a later post.)

On Monday, November 28, 2016, my know-no-details case worker and a security guard came to my door with another Notice of Administrative Transfer that they wanted me to sign. The notice said that my family would be moved the next day. Specifically, it stated that: “As of 11/29/16” my family would not “be permitted to remain in [our] current shelter…Instead, you will be required to report to your new shelter placement once it’s identified.” How can you purport to move someone in 24 hours in one sentence, and in the very next sentence make a statement that conveys that the location of the move has not been identified? Who would sign a document that says that you would allow someone to move you someplace they haven’t even identified to you, or their precise reason for doing so? Who would sign a document that would give consent to being moved to a place of undetermined conditions? (Note: Several shelter administrators, including my shelter’s director has told me that they can move my family without our consent, even though there is no wrongdoing on our part; and without giving us pertinent details beforehand…”That’s the system.”)

The red tape keeps thickening.

To be continued…

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The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Dream House Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“This is not about getting your dream house.” -A Department of Homeless Services Administrator

The above statement was made to me by a New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) administrator during a case conference. I hadn’t heard a statement this preposterous and out-of-touch since Barbara Bush famously said the following about Hurricane Katrina survivors: “They’re underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.

The New York City shelter system administrators I’ve come in contact with thus far seem so extremely out-of-touch with what their clients are experiencing, and with who their clients are as people.

The above-stated quote is so insulting to what my family has been through, and continues to go through.

The DHS administrator’s statement, and the context in which it was said, communicated to me that he thinks the following: My family got pushed out of our home of five-and-a-half years, with an order to vacate; came into the violent, drug-riddled, oppressive, unhealthy New York City shelter system; continually loses income/work opportunities due to shelter conditions and ridiculous red tape; entered a system where it’s EXTREMELY challenging to save money because, believe it or not, being homeless is just as, if not more, expensive than having a stable place to live where you pay rent and utilities; lives in a shelter that doesn’t allow residents to have bottled water (although this rule seems to only be subjugated to my family); lives in a dangerous, prison-like environment; lives in a shelter with constantly blaring music and screams from violent arguments; and a multitude of other pejoratives; as a ploy to get our “dream house.” SMH!! I will NEVER forget his statement and the mindset it conveys.

How can someone work with the homeless population and yet be so oblivious? It speaks volumes about the condition of the New York City Department of Homeless Services and the shelter system.

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Halle Berry On Her Stint As A Homeless Shelter Resident

halle-berry

“It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meager. I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way.” -Halle Berry

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The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The 9-1-1 Non-Believer Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“[Insert Shelter Director’s Name] doesn’t believe in 9-1-1.” -A Shelter Security Guard

I overheard a shelter security guard making the aforementioned statement to co-workers while they were discussing the protocols of what to do when a serious incident happens in the shelter.

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Homelessness The New Slavery: Forced To Move Like A Chattel Slave

slave-ship

Chattel slavery involved the restricted and forced movement of slaves. By definition, a slave, “a person who is the legal property of another, and [who] is forced to obey them,” moves where their “owner” tells them to. After all, legally, ownership is characterized by possession, both active and constructive. One who legally possesses something or someone can move that person or item as they see fit.

Being a resident in the New York City homeless shelter system has brought to light the stark reality that I am viewed as a slave: A person identified and addressed by their room number; A person whose protestations of improprieties are disdained and looked upon as uppity outcries to be ignored; A person who is not entitled to question the rules and regulations they are subjected to, no matter how unreasonable those mandates are; A person whose movements are grossly restricted; a person who is told when and where they can have food; A person who can be summoned and scheduled at administrators’ whims; A person who can be moved without granting consent.

Yesterday, my case worker and a security supervisor knocked on my door to deliver a document they wanted my family to sign. The document stated that we would be moved to a new shelter and would “not be permitted to remain in [our] current shelter.” The document also stated: “You will be required to report to your new shelter placement once it’s identified. You and all family members must be present and ready to leave your current shelter placement by 11/18/2016.” The letter failed to state the raison d’etre for our unexpected, mandated move.

We do not, and have never, participated in any criminal activity, drug or alcohol use, or any other negative activity or interaction that would warrant such a sudden, unconsented displacement. We are law-abiding citizens with careers that require that we have pristine behaviors and backgrounds.

We are also people who have formally, via a bevy of written and verbal communications, spoken out about the lack of, and poor quality of, services we have received as shelter residents. We started out appealing to shelter and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) administrators. When our appeals were ignored, we reached out to elected officials and community leaders. Pleasantly, we have received some great feedback from the latter; while disappointedly, we have been ignored and castigated by the former.

Now, we are supposedly being shipped away without our consent in less than 48 hours. Who else is subjected to such treatment except slaves and prisoners?

When my case worker and the security supervisor knocked on my door yesterday with the aforementioned displacement document from the New York City Department of Homeless Services, they could not explain why we were being moved or where we were being moved to. My case worker answered my inquiries requesting that information with the response that she was just “the messenger.” Clearly, she was a messenger with an incomplete message.

Being that we were not given the full story regarding this unexpected proposed move, we reasonably refused to sign the document. We were then told by the shelter’s administrators that we would be moved whether we signed the document or not. I found that incredulous because printed right above the endorsement section of the document was the statement, “I have agreed to transfer from my current placement.” Our refusal to sign the document was a denial of making such an agreement. Still, we were told we would be moved without our consent.

Even more appalling is the fact that this document came from DHS administrators who failed to show up for multiple meetings they have scheduled with us. (There are several memorandums that prove this.) We have also sent several unresponded certified letters to these administrators over the past few months wishing to address their failure to attend meetings, and various other serious administrative issues. So why the sudden, out-of-the-blue, unconsented, forced move?

Is this some kind of gross error? Is this retaliation for speaking out? Is this retaliation for connecting with community members who have expressed great displeasure with the shelter’s management? Why are we being told that we will be forced to move to another shelter instead of receiving the housing assistance we have continually requested? So many unanswered questions!

This sudden, threatened upheaval is yet another unwarranted threat to my family’s well-being.

To be continued.

-The Homeless New Yorker

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Maybe My Shelter Expects Me To Yoga My Way To Housing

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Businesses, organizations, and institutions that operate ineptly often attempt to create window-dressing to cover up their ineffectiveness. For months, I’ve been expressing to homeless services and shelter administrators that I need tangible housing help that they are failing to provide. I’ve also consistently expressed dismay with administrators continuously exhibiting incompetence when it comes to their meeting scheduling practices, among other valid complaints. These very important issues have yet to be properly addressed, and still persist. Yet, instead of providing, and improving, services they profess to provide, my shelter has introduced weekly yoga classes.

Granted, yoga classes are a nice gesture. There are residents who can perhaps benefit from this activity. However, when you look at the big picture and see the obvious gaping holes that exist in the services provided, the protocols that are implemented, and shelter conditions (which includes violence and rampant drug use), one could easily become perplexed and befuddled about how a shelter immersed in so many problems can find the time to conduct yoga classes.

Yesterday, I attended my shelter’s mandatory bi-monthly meeting with my case worker. I was provided with zero housing recommendations; no answers on how to get a housing voucher, or a “required” open public assistance case- despite several written inquiries requesting this information for months; and no reasonable explanation as to why I was, yet again, stood up by a shelter administrator for a “mandatory” meeting on Friday. Also, during this obligatory meeting, administrators attempted to get me to sign documents that contained false information, and contained clauses that could potentially violate my rights (more on that in a future post).

In the midst of all of this going on, during the aforementioned bi-monthly meeting, I noticed that my case worker had a huge handmade posterboard chart in her office that was purportedly created to track yoga progress. Where is the chart that tracks how many shelter residents the shelter has successfully placed in housing?

In the words of a venture capitalist who entitled a section of his book, “Why dogs at work and yoga aren’t culture”: “Yes, yoga may make your company a better place to work for people who like yoga…It will not establish a core value that drives the business and helps promote it in perpetuity. It is not specific with respect to what your business aims to achieve.” (Ben Horowitz)

What exactly is my shelter aiming to achieve? Providing yoga doesn’t exempt you from your professional responsibilities; nor does it camouflage incompetence and gross neglect. Also note, this is the same shelter that forbids residents from having bottled water; yet, now they’re so “health conscious” they have yoga classes…SMH!!

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No Bottled Water: A Human Rights Issue

Due to new shelter rules that were implemented this summer that disallows shelter residents from having any food items, including bottled water, my family has been greatly feeling the adverse effects. As if shelter-living isn’t unhealthy enough, my shelter administrators decided to violate our rights to have bottled water and fruits and vegetable snacks that will help to supplement our nourishment and partially combat the unhealthy lifestyle living in this shelter causes. We are greatly feeling the adverse effects of not having our daily recommended intake of water. Yet, as I type this, there is an intense drug smell seeping into my room.

Shelter administrators’ response to my family constantly having to smell drugs: “Close the vents in your room, and put a towel under your door. That’s the best we can tell you.” Meanwhile, the shelters’ administrators have successfully stopped me from having water and basic healthy snacks in my room for months, but they say they are powerless to stop the drug use in the facility. SMH!

THIS IS A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION!! All of this is going on in the “richest” city in one of the “richest” countries in the world. This country even advocates providing clean water to “third-world countries,” but I’m not allowed to have bottled water. I guess I’ll be spending my holiday weekend campaigning for my human rights.

Here’s a video about the result of human beings not getting enough water:

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Purposeful Government

“When you’re not dwelling in love, you’re off purpose. This is true for individuals, institutions, business, and our governments as well. When a government gouges its citizens with excessive fees for any service, they’re off purpose. When a government pursues violence as a means for resolving disputes, it’s off purpose regardless of how it justifies its actions. When businesses overcharge, cheat, or manipulate in the name of profit-making, they’re off purpose.” –Wayne Dyer

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When An Ex-Marine Says NYC Shelters Are Not Safe

HMLS New Yorker

Yesterday, the New York Daily News printed an article about homeless vets. The article quoted a former Marine who took to living under a boardwalk with his wife in order to avoid the violence of a New York City homeless shelter. He is quoted as saying that “there was too much fighting” and it “wasn’t safe.”

What does it say that even a trained Marine fears living in a NYC shelter? This city MUST do better. We have to, collectively, get it right as a city and a society.

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