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Thankfully, the temperature has dropped today. However, for three days this week, the temperatures soared into the high 80s and low 90s. My shelter room was sweltering.
During the Summer of 2016, I was in a shelter that had central air. Although the rooms were kept relatively cool on the days the central air was working and turned on, there was a downside to having central air in that particular shelter; the cornucopia of drug fumes that came through the vents were astounding. Shelter administrators said there was nothing they could do about the noxious drug fumes coming through the vents because it was likely coming from several different rooms, and blowing through the ventilation system.
The shelter that I am currently in has no cooling system, although the drug aroma is ubiquitously present. During the hot weather, the room got unbearably hot and stuffy. It was too uncomfortable to sleep. I wonder what The Department of Homeless Services prescribes in this situation. Are residents allowed to purchase air conditioners? If so, is that feasible given the transient nature of being a homeless shelter resident? What about residents who can’t afford such accoutrements, if they are allowed? What do they do to escape the unbearable heat and stuffiness? How does one live under such suffocating conditions during the summer months, or even during a heat wave?
I hope the weather remains cool for as long as possible.
-The HMLS New Yorker
…The people who are being “gentrified” out of their neighborhoods. Smh! I saw the above pictured ads on a couple of different trains this week. The ads are marked as coming from the “Office of the Mayor.” Meanwhile, what about the lifelong New Yorkers who have been pushed out of New York, or are peril of being pushed out of New York, or who are currently homeless? Who has to “learn to live alongside” us? Smh.
The New York City shelter system seems to be the new prison-industrial complex. However, unlike the treacherous prison system, you don’t have to commit a crime, or be falsely accused of committing a crime, to be ensnared in the New York City shelter system.
The New York City shelter system is comprised of the vast and varied pool of: The employed (including city workers), the unemployed, the old, the young, the middle-aged, the educated, the uneducated, the disabled, married people, single people, the formerly incarcerated, the never incarcerated, the healthy, the sick, the sane, the insane, etc. However, the expansiveness of this pool thinly narrows when it comes to race.
Is homelessness in New York a race issue, just like the disproportionate number of Black people imprisoned? You bet! Black New Yorkers have been “gentrified” out of the City, or into homeless shelters. These shelters are akin to prisons; as they are run as such. As someone who is currently a resident in the New York City shelter system, I can attest to this.
Like the prison system, the New York City shelter system is a profit-driven industry that encourages recidivism, and is not designed for the easy escape of its prisoners. The penitentiary-like conditions, and the red-tape ridiculousness, I confront on a daily basis as a resident of the New York City shelter system is baffling and appalling. When you factor in the fact that the City plans to expand the abominable homeless shelter system, it is clear that there is no plan to abate the dreadful conditions that are being visited upon homeless New Yorkers.
We; the knowing, abled, and concerned; must collectively combat this conundrum. Although there is a privileged group of New Yorkers (aka elected officials) who have been entrusted, and financially enriched, to perform the aforementioned task; it is obvious that something is amiss. We must step up to the plate a fiercely attack homelessness. What is left of our community depends on it.
-The HMLS New Yorker
According to several news sources, New York City’s Department of Finance collects approximately 1% of fines levied on landlords. The fines, meant to be punitive and compensatory in nature, obviously fails to punish and deter because they are rarely collected.
According to a recent article in the Prospect Heights Patch, in 2016, New York City landlords owed the city more than $1 billion in fines. The news source also states that after 8 years of delinquency, unpaid fines to the Department of Finance are simply written off by the city. This is a travesty.
If New York City would actively collect even half the fines landlords owe, a big dent could be put in the City’s homeless problem; that is if the City would collect the money, and properly appropriate it. The City should be using these missing funds to build much needed affordable housing.
-The HMLS New Yorker
I went to sleep, and woke up, thinking about what I can do to promote my family’s health. A You Tube video I watched reminded me of the importance of drinking water. It’s sadly ironic how quickly being institutionalized can curtail your habits, and how long it can take to reinstate them.
In the last shelter I was in, several months ago, bottled water was abruptly banned. (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for posts regarding that.) Of course, the water ban negatively affected my family’s water intake. It also changed my water-drinking habits for months to come. I purchase water, but my intake level is nowhere close to being what it was pre-homelessness and pre-water ban. I had to examine myself, and ask myself why.
Being in a system where your environment is abnormally controlled on a large scale by someone else, unfortunately, also means that your habits are controlled and damaged by that system as well. Being subjected to certain rules for a prolonged period consciously and subconsciously affects your momentum, and the things you are naturally inclined to do.
The You Tube video I watched reminded me of the importance of drinking water. Today is the day I start to re-implement consistent water drinking into my daily regimen.
-The Homeless New Yorker
[PLEASE NOTE: I WILL PERIODICALLY UPDATE THIS POST UNTIL 12 MIDNIGHT 5/11/17.]
• 12:26 AM: Was awakened by security when he had to yell to a resident to “draw the curtain,” while the resident was using the shower. Presumably, the bathroom floods when the curtain isn’t drawn. This is another one of those nuisances that one has to grin and bear when residing in a shelter. It’s not like the security officer had any other option but to yell this out.
• 2:44 AM: Was awakened by a strong drug smell seeping into our room.
• 4:44 AM and 5:47 AM: A drug aroma wafts into our room.
• Today, I had to run what I call “homeless errands,” once again. These are errands that eat up your time, and errands that you wouldn’t have to do if you weren’t homeless. This includes picking up mail from my post office box, going to storage, searching for housing, and attempting to untangle all the red tape of the various agencies you have to deal with when you’re homeless.
• Stopped by the health store to buy essential oils. This is a necessary expense when you are trying to fight off the negative effects of living in close proximity to drug users.
• Got a bubble tea; one of my comfort foods. You’ll need to have a snack or two that takes you to your happy place when you are living in the shelter system. Lol.
• Was uplifted by a highlight of the day; seeing a performance by middle-school students. It’s always inspiring to see young people use their talents.
• Came back to the shelter in the afternoon, and got more than a couple of whiffs of the afternoon drug session. SMH! Unfortunately, the evening hours was more of the same.
When I first got to the shelter I currently reside in, I was optimistic that it was going to be a well-run facility that had a professional and efficient staff. After being forcibly transferred from a facility rife with violence, rampant drug use, and a slew of management problems (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for my posts on my shelter transfer experience), it would have been a near impossibility for this shelter to be worse than the one we came from.
At intake, on December 5, 2016, the shelter’s administrator told us to look forward to being in our new home by New Year’s. She said the shelter was good at what they did, and seeing that we are a family with strictly a housing issue, we should look forward to placement soon.
Being that this shelter didn’t immediately reveal having the problems that the previous shelter had, such as: Impotent, militaristic security; an extremely loud hallway environment; blatantly ornery caseworkers; rules that banned bottled water, or any type of food or beverage; etc.; We had a good first impression. However, our first impression was not a lasting impression.
In approximately a month, the shiny veneer began to peel. The following situations reared their ugly heads:
• An unrelentingly, intense drug smell began to waft into our room on a daily basis; a problem we reported and had good faith would be quashed by the shelter’s administrators and staff. It wasn’t.
• The housing-search packet given to me by a shelter administrator, which seemed so great because the previous shelter’s administrators never provided such a resource, proved to be chock-full of disconnected or ever-ringing numbers, scammers, and realtors who were blatantly discriminatory.
• Staff could be heard cursing residents, even over the intercom.
• No tangible housing placement help has been given.
• Administrators use bullying tactics towards residents, and abuse their power.
• Just like the previous shelter, administrators schedule meetings they fail to show up to.
• Administrators make false claims on paperwork; such as, marking documents as “2nd issued,” when it is the first time they present it to a resident.
• Etc., etc., etc.
Although this shelter will, hopefully, never be as bad as the previous shelter, which I nicknamed Alcatraz; being better than the worse doesn’t make you good, or even acceptable.
It’s sad and disappointing to say, but beware of shelters proclaiming efficiency and professionalism. Wait to see consistency, or you just might be bamboozled.
-The Homeless New Yorker
Over five weeks ago, I had an attorney file a release request for my Department of Homeless Services (DHS) file. (CLICK HERE to see what prompted me to subpoena my file.) I still don’t have it.
What is taking so long? Is this the norm? Where is my file?