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 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

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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.”

obama-confused-look

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

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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

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Should Every Homeless Person Subpoena Their DHS File?

HMLS New Yorker

A recent case conference with shelter administrators was the catalyst for me going through the proper channels to file to procure my Department of Homeless Services (DHS) file.

The aforementioned case conference was chock-full of notable occurrences; each of which deserve their own, separate blog posts. However, I was moved to subpoena my DHS case file when my shelter’s director erroneously proclaimed that I had been offered “several housing placements.” This proclamation was made by the director when I requested housing-search assistance. (Note, as of today, I have been in the New York City homeless shelter system for 403 days. I have yet to receive any tangible housing help.)

The director confusingly rebuffed my request for help with her erroneous statement, within minutes of declaring that she was there to help me. This quick turnaround only reveals a hint of how ridiculously egregious the things that I experienced during this meeting was.

Over 2 ½ months after several case conferences were scheduled and canceled, due to the shelter director’s failure to appear, I finally met her face-to-face, for the first time, during this case conference. She was so hostile and unprofessional, I chose to excuse myself from the meeting rather than endure her bullying. Needless to say, she didn’t provide me with any housing-search help. However, she did provide me with motivation to immediately file to receive a copy of my Department of Homeless Services file.

Residents of homeless shelters should be familiar with what administrators are putting in their files, especially since the contents of their files are likely to have a direct effect on how they will be treated by shelter administrators. Residents should also have knowledge of the contents of their files so they can properly dispute any false information that is placed in it.

Be aware that shelter administrators may deem what is contained in your file as “fact.” This was the response that was made to me to me when I told my shelter’s director that I did not receive any housing placements. She claimed to have studied my file, and said that her statement was a “fact.” It should be noted that I have been in the shelter she directs for over 4 months and, thus far, I have never been offered any housing placements while I’ve been there. Therefore, I presume she’s taking as “fact” what another administrator at another shelter wrote in my file; presuming my file actually says I’ve been offered housing placements.

My experience should be used as an impetus for all shelter residents to obtain their files, go over it with a fine-toothed comb, and dispute any discrepancies.

-The Homeless New Yorker

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HMLS New Yorker Inspirational Quote Of The Week

HMLS New Yorker

“Some people, if they have authority, they’re going to abuse it. That was the biggest thing I needed to know. I had to know that no matter if you’re doing everything right; if you’re doing your best; that, guess what? Sometimes you may not get the result you want. That doesn’t mean you quit.” -Romeo Miller

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