This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals ruled that prosecuting homeless people for sleeping outside might be a violation of the United States Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.
According to U.S. News, the Portland, Oregon- based appeals court stated that when homeless shelters had too few beds, “sitting, lying and sleeping on the streets was an ‘unavoidable consequence’ of homelessness, and it would be an Eighth Amendment violation for cities to punish that conduct when their shelters had too few beds.”
The court also stated that : “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”
Well-renowned financial guru, Suze Orman went through a period of homelessness during her young adulthood.
In her book, “The Money Book For The Young, Fabulous, and Broke,” she recounts: “As I write this section, I am sitting in my south Florida home, staring out at the Atlantic Ocean. yet what keeps popping into my mind is the Ford Ecoline van I lived in when I first arrived in Berkeley, California, in the mid-1970s. Yes, yours truly lived in a van because I couldn’t afford to rent an apartment, or even a room. I couldn’t even afford the van; my brother loaned me the money for it.”
AMARA LA NEGRA: I was homeless at some point in my life, and a lot of people don’t know that.
HOLLYWOOD UNLOCKED: Not sleeping on the street?
AMARA LA NEGRA: Well, sleeping in my car for 2 months outside of McDonalds… And I would go there because it’s 24 hours; and wash up with wipies and stuff, and leave out of the car looking fabulous, and you would never know that I’m struggling; I’m so hungry. You would never know.
HOLLYWOOD UNLOCKED: It takes a lot of courage to admit that though…
AMARA LA NEGRA: You know what? I do it too because I want to be real. I want to be honest about it.
My life hasn’t always been perfect. I don’t do it because I want anybody to feel pity for me. It’s my truth, and all these things build the character and the woman I am today.
A year ago, yesterday, I exited the New York City homeless shelter system. Being in the homeless shelter system was a life-changing experience for me. The New York City homeless shelter system seems to have a lot of similarities with the prison system. People who are in the homeless shelter system for a bevy of reasons, including upstanding citizens who have fell victim to New York City’s vicious cycle of gentrification, are treated like inmates; basically, dehumanized and “institutionalized.”
It’s a process to mentally, emotionally, and physically shake off the despicable trauma of the NYC homeless shelter system. When I read Wu Tang Klan’s U-God’s memoir, a passage in the tome regarding adjusting to life after incarceration reminded me of adjusting to life after being homeless.
In his book, “Raw: My Journey Into The Wu-Tang,” U-God states: “You need about the same amount of time back in the world as you served in jail. If you did three years inside, you’re gonna need three years outside to get your head on straight. You have to catch up with the world that’s kept moving on while you’ve been separated from it. You aren’t just gonna walk out the gate and pick up your life right where you left off. You gotta readjust yourself, reestablish your routines, and above all, get used to the freedom of not being locked up, because that’s one of the biggest things every convict has to overcome.”
Despite the traumatic and extremely negative experiences I had in the NYC homeless shelter system, I appreciate what I learned and experienced there. My experiences in that system armed me with a effective and potent tool for helping others. I will never forget what I experienced, and I will not stop speaking out about it until things are changed, and greater numbers of people are helped.
To commemorate my anniversary, I have set some new personal goals. Me and my husband will also go to a shelter this weekend and give back, directly, to the people.
Lots of Love,
-The Homeless New Yorker
On April 5, 2018, New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio and his wife Chirlaine McCray, appeared on The Breakfast Club, a New York based morning radio show. The syndicated radio show is popular among New Yorkers, and the youth demographic. Their interviews have garnered millions of views on You Tube.
During the almost hour-long Breakfast Club interview, the mayor and the first lady talked politics, and about a bevy of issues affecting New Yorkers. I watched the You Tube video of the interview on the edge of my seat, hoping to hear the mayor address the city’s record-breaking homelessness issue. However, during the interview, the word “homeless” never came up. I was surprised that the issue was not mentioned at all.
All any New Yorker has to do is ride the subway, especially at night, to get a good visual on how out of control the homelessness problem is in New York City. In addition to this, news sources across the country are constantly reporting on New York City’s current homeless problem surpassing the levels of homelessness during The Great Depression.
The Breakfast Club morning show is a huge platform in New York. It was an opportunity for the mayor to speak to a large audience of New Yorkers about the things that concern them daily. Why was the issue of homelessness COMPLETELY ignored?
The mayor and the first lady, and the radio show’s three hosts didn’t mention NYC’s housing crisis, the record-breaking homeless statistics, or gentrification once during the entire interview. The word “housing” was never even uttered.
I was sitting there watching like:
How does the city’s mayor go on arguably one of the city’s biggest communication platforms and fail to address such an important topic?
-The Homeless New Yorker
“The people of a city respond to the mass psychology that dominates the city. If a group of leaders engage in sufficient action to give a city the reputation of being a “live-wire” city, this action influences all who live there.” -Napoleon Hill
We must all contribute, collectively, to making this city a great place to live. Consideration for others, and speaking up for what is right is something that must be valued and relentlessly implemented. I’ve heard more than a few people talk about the declining morals of society. This decline directly relates to the other societal challenges we are witnessing, and how those challenges are being addressed. The “small things” we do, and how we do them, matter greatly.
-The Homeless New Yorker