How Familiar Are Politicos With The Nuances Of Homelessness?

HMLS New Yorker

I’m particularly concerned with how knowledgeable politicians who have been tasked with solving social problems are when it comes to the issue of homelessness. I am particularly concerned about this when it comes to New York City; not only because it is my hometown, but because it has exceeded Great Depression levels of homelessness, and local politicos are expressing exasperation when it comes to dealing with this issue. (CLICK HERE to read about NYC’s mayor’s expressed exasperation.”)

In a recent ABC News report on homelessness, the New York City governor’s statements regarding the homeless problem does not convey confidence that he is knowledgeable regarding the nuances of the issue. When asked to address the issue of homeless people using the public train system as a place to sleep, the governor reportedly said the following: “Let’s get real. Let’s get the homeless the help they need. Shelters, mental health, job training et cetera. Second, the New York City Transit Authority is owned by the city and policed by the NYPD. The NYPD used to do this. They need to do this again.”

Based on the aforementioned quote attributed to Governor Cuomo, I wonder if the governor is aware of, or has considered, the following:

• Many people who are “street homeless” are avoiding the city’s dangerous, drug-riddled shelters like the plague.

• Many homeless people don’t need “job training,” or “mental health” assistance. Many of the homeless are employed people whose employment is only threatened by being homeless and living in one of the city’s homeless shelters. I wonder if the governor, and other city politicos, are aware of how homeless shelter protocols, and conditions, threaten so many homeless people’s employment.

• How would NYPD be able to tell the difference between some of the people who are sleeping on the train because they are homeless, and people who are on their way home and have fell asleep on the train after a long day? There are stereotypes about what a homeless person looks like. There are some people who may be deemed perfectly coiffed and groomed who are homeless and sleeping on the train. In the governor’s eyes, does the well-groomed homeless have a right to sleep on the train while the less-groomed homeless don’t? Does the governor suggest that NYPD officers approach anyone on the train who has their eyes shut and ask them if they are homeless, or on their way home; and then expel them from the train based on their answer?

We clearly need politicians who are not so far removed from the issues the city’s citizens are facing. We also need politicos who dedicate, and assemble. the proper brain power to grapple with serious issues.

-The Homeless New Yorker


The McKinney-Vento Act & The Education Of Homeless Children

HMLS New YorkerThe McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that was passed by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987.

The McKinney-Vento Act is a conditional funding act. This means that states that accept funds from the federal government are legally bound by the provisions of the Act. However, there are some states that are noted to have accepted federal funds while failing to comply with the stated terms of the Act.

The Act grants children who live in temporary housing a choice to continue their education at their school or origin (the school they attended when they were permanently housed, or the last school they attended), or at a local school (a school located in the area where they are temporarily housed).

The McKinney-Vento Act also states that students in temporary housing have the right to: “Immediately enroll in school and attend classes; get free transportation to their school of origin; get free transportation to their local school if transportation is provided to other students; get special education services immediately if the student has a current Individual Education Plan (even if the IEP is not available or is from another district); participate in any school activity that is available to other students and get transportation to and from all before- or after-school activities if it is provided to other students; and get free school meals without filling out an application.”

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has reportedly successfully litigated cases against New York, and other localities, that have failed to comply with the Act after receiving federal funding.