Homeless Shelter Mathematics: 4 Police Vehicles, 9 Police Officers, 1 Ambulance, 2 Ambulance Attendants & 1 Disabled Woman Out In The Rain

HMLS New Yorker

As a punishment for the infraction of certain rules, shelter residents are made to leave the facility for a number of hours. The alleged offending resident could be made to stay outside until midnight, or until the on-duty front-desk security officer concludes their shift.

Residents have been locked out of the shelter for arguing, being loud, or taking too long on a smoke break after curfew.

Recently, a disabled shelter resident, who appears to be elderly, was expelled from the shelter for allegedly being too loud. Police and emergency personnel were called to the shelter to eject the woman for her alleged offense. I don’t know what prompted the extreme response of: 4 police vehicles, 9 Police Officers, 1 Ambulance, and 2 Ambulance Attendants appearing at the shelter to expel one disabled woman. However, after the woman was forced to leave the shelter, she spent hours outside the facility bellowing about the injustice of her banishment. Stating that she had nowhere to go, she loudly pleaded to be let back into the facility.

Again, I am not privy to all of the details leading up to this particular incident. However, I do know that some residents are punished with expulsions, while others are allowed to commit serious offenses, such as obvious drug use, with impunity.

-The HMLS New Yorker


Shelter Complaint Deterrents

Simple Logic HMLS New Yorker

Being a homeless shelter resident puts you in the precarious position of other people being in control of your living environment. If you are a person who likes quiet, at any time there can be a loud outburst. For example, an argument may break out, or shelter staff may decide to make a sudden announcement over the intercom. If you are sleeping, you can be abruptly awakened by a slew of random occurrences that go on in a homeless shelter. If you are a non-smoker/non-drug user, you can be forced to be subjected to drug smoke because residents don’t respect the no-smoking rule, and shelter staff refuses to enforce it, and in some cases even encourages it. If you are a clean person, you may have to share a bathroom with unclean people, or be in a shelter where the cleaning staff, or maintenance staff, isn’t assigned to come regularly.

There are some things you are forced to grin and bear because certain things come along with living amongst an abnormally large group of strangers in close quarters. However, there are also things that go on in the homeless shelter system that cross the line to egregiousness; and therefore, cannot be ignored. When these things happen, anyone of good conscience will speak up about it. However, that is more than frowned upon in the shelter system.

In the eyes of shelter administrators, a shelter resident making a complaint seems to be akin to an inmate complaining to a warden, or a slave complaining to a master or overseer. It is clear that complaints are not welcome; and who wants to make themselves unwelcome to the very people who control their environment? It is a very risky (to say the least) thing to do in an already extremely vulnerable predicament.

If you choose to speak up, you will be confronted with deterrents that will quash any future complaints. Administrators and/or staff will feign ignorance of the existence of any problems; they will fabricate confirmations that you are making the whole issue up; they will likely attempt to provoke negative behavior/responses from the complainant so they can flip the script; they may even transfer the resident to another shelter against their will; all while the reported problem still persists because the people entrusted with coming up with solutions cash their paychecks and allow blatantly unconscionable situations to fester.

Intelligent and fair-minded administrators welcome reasonable complaints because it allows for quick trouble shooting, which helps organizations to thrive. Reasonable complaints from clients is like receiving free expert consultations.

In any business or organization, there are things that organizers and administrators can’t see that people standing at a different vantage point can clearly spot. It should be viewed as a positive when clients bring those things to the attention of administrators. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what goes on in the NYC homeless shelter system.

When homeless shelter administrators fail to properly address problems, clients will seek solutions elsewhere. It stands to reason that anyone whose well-being is jeopardized will seek to escape that jeopardy.

By virtue of its etymology, it is ignorant to ignore that which should be attended to. Ignoring and covering-up problems only makes the situation worse. The City, in general, and the homeless shelter system, specifically, needs leaders/administrators who solve problems, not taxpayer-paid administrators who create them.

-The HMLS New Yorker


Book Review: In Defense Of Housing

“Currently, the contours of the housing system are determined by a relatively small elite. As a result, the scale of inequality and injustice in the housing system is not widely acknowledged. We should not see these as unfortunate but random facts. That the basic shape of the housing system is not on any mainstream political agenda is a sign of the power of economic and political elites to make it seem as if fundamental housing questions are basically settled. We need to create new sites where the housing question can be reopened.” From, “In Defense of Housing” By: David Madden and Peter Marcuse

In Defense Of Housing

Out of all of the challenges a person may face, there is no vulnerability quite like homelessness. It is a situation that has to be experienced to be fully understood. Pundits usually discuss the ever-growing issue from a detached, cerebral standpoint. They spew statistics, grimace at the effect of homelessness on housed taxpayers, emote empathy for individuals engaged in a plight they “can only imagine,” and fail to connect the dots of a social issue that has a historical context. The authors of “In Defense of Housing” deviate from this oft-traveled road.

In “In Defense of Housing,” authors David Madden and Peter Marcuse exhibit a deep understanding of the issue of homelessness. They do not regurgitate the cliched analyses and phrases associated with homelessness. In fact, in their tome, they challenge the validity of the phrase, “housing crisis.” They astutely argue that this term, and terms like it, are misnomers.

Madden and Marcuse frame homelessness in a historical context. They trace the origins of the real estate market as it exists, and reveal who benefits from its current state and how. They also give a history of how various sects of society utilize and define housing.

In addition to giving the reader a broad view of housing and its commercialization, the authors of, “In Defense of Housing,” also provide the reader with an inside look on how homelessness feels to the individuals who are experiencing it. They do a great job of conveying the downward spiral that homelessness can cause to an individual, family, and community.

“In Defense of Housing” is not a book that solely commiserates on the distressing issue of homelessness. The tome offers well thought out solutions to the current housing conundrum. The concluding chapter of the book, entitled, “For a Radical Right to Housing,” presents strategies that could be implemented to provide more just access to housing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a clear-eyed look into the state of housing today, and to anyone who is looking to better the abysmal state of proper housing access. This book is a standout amongst the books written on the subject of homelessness.


Bullying Administrators Who Trap Shelter Residents, Literally

No Bully Zone

Some shelter administrators engage in bullying tactics that are extremely egregious. The fact that there are administrative tyrants who go unpunished, all while receiving paychecks that are garnered tax-payer dollars, makes this system seem like it is set up to be the enemy of the very people they are supposed to protect; and the enemy of people whose hard-earned funds facilitate its existence.

By virtue of its status alone, homelessness is attached to vulnerability, disenfranchisement, and a bevy of other unfavorable states of being. When you add a bullying administrator, who has substantial control of your living environment to these factors, the difficulty of an already grueling situation is exponentially increased.

Since entering the New York City homeless shelter system in 2016, I have experienced more than my fair share of red-tape ridiculousness, unprofessionalism, and unconscionable behavior from various administrators. Most recently, I witnessed a shelter administrator trap a resident in her office, while the resident made pleas to be let out. The whole encounter made quite an impression, to say the least.

After I witnessed the disturbing incident, the administrator voluntarily stated that the client wasn’t “in compliance,” and I shouldn’t be affected by the “energy” of her dealings with another client. She also stated that she hoped I would be “in compliance.”


Who hires these people and entrusts them with the care of people who are in vulnerable positions; positons made even more vulnerable and precarious by people who think it’s okay to intentionally, physically restrict a person’s movements amidst their cries of protestations? How is this type of behavior and intimidation acceptable? This system is unbelievable. I will continue to speak out concerning my experiences.

-The Homeless New Yorker


Caseworker Type: The Flirt

Ariana Flirt Meme

Only second in residency-related abuse of power to correction officers who use the inmate population as their personal dating pool, the flirtatious caseworker unconscionably throws out “availability” signals to clients. These reckless, thinly-veiled come-ons are bolstered by the understanding that the caseworker has the power to make an already extremely difficult situation even more difficult.

Married people, or people in committed relationships, are not exempt from the antics of the flirtatious case worker. Even if the case worker is aware that their flirtations are not likely to result in a liaison, this may not necessarily be a deterrent for their antics.

For some of the caseworkers who shamelessly flirt, a liaison is not their end-goal. Their off-putting behavior is instead used to be a distraction for the poor manner in which they do their jobs; or it is used as a tool to cause dissension between couples, as one of the many divide-and-conquer tactics that a family may encounter when they are in the shelter system; or it can be used by the caseworker to provoke a negative response that will likely be used against the ensnared subject who is repulsed by the caseworker’s inappropriate conduct.

Beware of your responses to any type of unprofessional behavior. Always keep your composure, and respectfully remove yourself from any situation that seems untoward.

Characteristics of a Flirtatious Caseworker:

• This person may or may not be dressed in professional attire. No matter the outfitting, they will find a reason to expose body parts that should be properly covered in a public/professional setting. Their excuses may range from: Room temperature change, changing comfortability levels, the need to execute random maneuvers that emphasize their speech, the sudden need to return a borrowed article of clothing to someone that they happen to be wearing; the list can go on.

• This person may have background music playing in their office, but it will not be “neutral,” like elevator music. They may also happen to “casually” sing along with the most provocative parts of the song.

• This person may proclaim profusely, without query or expressed interest on the client’s part, to be in a relationship. Their professed relationship status seems to be negligible when it comes to their antics though.

• In a couples or family situation, the flirtatious caseworker will exude feigned helpfulness and kindness to the subject of their foolery, while expressing derision towards that person’s spouse or partner.

REMEMBER: No matter what caseworker type you encounter, never lose focus of the fact that you are interacting with the service provider to get housing help. When it is in your power to do so, make your need to receive housing placement the main, if not the only, topic of discussion with your service provider. If it is not within your power to keep the focus of the meeting on your stated need, try not to spend any substantial time or energy engaging in counterproductive banter. Also, when necessary, politely remove yourself from any detrimental situation.

-The Homeless New Yorker