CLICK HERE for an overview, and first blog post, regarding my family’s pending “administrative transfer.” Please read this post first for a more comprehensive understanding of this situation.
Although my family was supposed to be forcibly moved from our shelter, without our consent, on November 18th; we have yet to be moved from our current shelter. However, the move is still pending.
Since the last time I addressed this issue on this blog, I have met with the director of my shelter regarding our forced, unexplained pending move. During the meeting, she did not give me any definitive answers as to where my family would be moved to or why. The only vague, raison d’etre she gave me for the sudden, unexpected pending move was that I had expressed “concerns” and “wrote letters.” She tried to guard her speech by constantly answering my queries with refrains of: “I don’t know,” and “I wouldn’t say that,” and “That’s the system.” However, she did make some puzzling statements when she wasn’t dodging basic questions that she should have provided answers to. (I’ll discuss that more in a later post.)
On Monday, November 28, 2016, my know-no-details case worker and a security guard came to my door with another Notice of Administrative Transfer that they wanted me to sign. The notice said that my family would be moved the next day. Specifically, it stated that: “As of 11/29/16” my family would not “be permitted to remain in [our] current shelter…Instead, you will be required to report to your new shelter placement once it’s identified.” How can you purport to move someone in 24 hours in one sentence, and in the very next sentence make a statement that conveys that the location of the move has not been identified? Who would sign a document that says that you would allow someone to move you someplace they haven’t even identified to you, or their precise reason for doing so? Who would sign a document that would give consent to being moved to a place of undetermined conditions? (Note: Several shelter administrators, including my shelter’s director has told me that they can move my family without our consent, even though there is no wrongdoing on our part; and without giving us pertinent details beforehand…”That’s the system.”)
The red tape keeps thickening.
To be continued…
Chattel slavery involved the restricted and forced movement of slaves. By definition, a slave, “a person who is the legal property of another, and [who] is forced to obey them,” moves where their “owner” tells them to. After all, legally, ownership is characterized by possession, both active and constructive. One who legally possesses something or someone can move that person or item as they see fit.
Being a resident in the New York City homeless shelter system has brought to light the stark reality that I am viewed as a slave: A person identified and addressed by their room number; A person whose protestations of improprieties are disdained and looked upon as uppity outcries to be ignored; A person who is not entitled to question the rules and regulations they are subjected to, no matter how unreasonable those mandates are; A person whose movements are grossly restricted; a person who is told when and where they can have food; A person who can be summoned and scheduled at administrators’ whims; A person who can be moved without granting consent.
Yesterday, my case worker and a security supervisor knocked on my door to deliver a document they wanted my family to sign. The document stated that we would be moved to a new shelter and would “not be permitted to remain in [our] current shelter.” The document also stated: “You will be required to report to your new shelter placement once it’s identified. You and all family members must be present and ready to leave your current shelter placement by 11/18/2016.” The letter failed to state the raison d’etre for our unexpected, mandated move.
We do not, and have never, participated in any criminal activity, drug or alcohol use, or any other negative activity or interaction that would warrant such a sudden, unconsented displacement. We are law-abiding citizens with careers that require that we have pristine behaviors and backgrounds.
We are also people who have formally, via a bevy of written and verbal communications, spoken out about the lack of, and poor quality of, services we have received as shelter residents. We started out appealing to shelter and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) administrators. When our appeals were ignored, we reached out to elected officials and community leaders. Pleasantly, we have received some great feedback from the latter; while disappointedly, we have been ignored and castigated by the former.
Now, we are supposedly being shipped away without our consent in less than 48 hours. Who else is subjected to such treatment except slaves and prisoners?
When my case worker and the security supervisor knocked on my door yesterday with the aforementioned displacement document from the New York City Department of Homeless Services, they could not explain why we were being moved or where we were being moved to. My case worker answered my inquiries requesting that information with the response that she was just “the messenger.” Clearly, she was a messenger with an incomplete message.
Being that we were not given the full story regarding this unexpected proposed move, we reasonably refused to sign the document. We were then told by the shelter’s administrators that we would be moved whether we signed the document or not. I found that incredulous because printed right above the endorsement section of the document was the statement, “I have agreed to transfer from my current placement.” Our refusal to sign the document was a denial of making such an agreement. Still, we were told we would be moved without our consent.
Even more appalling is the fact that this document came from DHS administrators who failed to show up for multiple meetings they have scheduled with us. (There are several memorandums that prove this.) We have also sent several unresponded certified letters to these administrators over the past few months wishing to address their failure to attend meetings, and various other serious administrative issues. So why the sudden, out-of-the-blue, unconsented, forced move?
Is this some kind of gross error? Is this retaliation for speaking out? Is this retaliation for connecting with community members who have expressed great displeasure with the shelter’s management? Why are we being told that we will be forced to move to another shelter instead of receiving the housing assistance we have continually requested? So many unanswered questions!
This sudden, threatened upheaval is yet another unwarranted threat to my family’s well-being.
To be continued.
-The Homeless New Yorker
I reside in a shelter that does not allow residents to have a table or a chair. When I found this out, I asked my case worker if I could be allowed to have a chair. I told her that I have a professional skill that requires daily practice, and in order to perform this daily practice I needed a chair.
The beds in the room are extremely close to the ground. There is no way I can sit properly and practice from a position that is so close to the floor. I explained this to my case worker. I told her that performing my daily practice was extremely important to the advancement of my life. Her response was: “Advance your life from the edge of your bed.”
This was another incident, in a multitude of shelter incidents, that continues to make me feel like an incarcerated ward of the State.
After doing some independent research, I found out that I could file a reasonable accommodation request form to ask for permission to have a chair. (Isn’t that something?! A human being having to file a form and write a letter to get permission to have a chair so they can sit in an upright position.) Of course, my case worker did not offer this as an option to me.
After a couple of months, my request was granted, and I was able to possess a small folding chair.
I feel like an inmate. I’ve been a law-abiding citizen my entire life. Rents sky-rocket, I get pushed out of my home of 5 and-a-half years, and now I’m being made to feel like a prisoner. A prisoner that has to get permission to have a necessary, basic item.
“Room INSERT ROOM NUMBER.”
A majority of the staff in the shelter address the shelter residents by their room number as a form of direct address; Just like prisoners being addressed by their jail identification number. That speaks volumes about the intentions and conditions of the homeless shelter system.
Last week, upon entering the shelter where I currently reside, my family and I were informed that a new shelter policy had taken effect, allegedly effective 20 minutes prior to our arrival. The new rule states that we are no longer allowed to have ANY food and beverages in the facility. This new mandate also includes bottled water.
Due to the sudden rule change regarding food and beverages, my family was forced to exit the facility with the sandwiches we had bought to eat for the day. The sudden implementation of the new rule meant that we had to throw out half of our meal because we were not able to consume it in one sitting.
I can’t help but ask myself for the raison d’etre for the new rule. I don’t think the rule has been implemented in order to keep the facility clean. The rule exempts people who have “medical clearance.” A bevy of residents have come and gone in and out of the facility with food since the new rule has been announced. (I guess a lot of the residents have “medical clearance.”) Also, I have still seen food and food containers that have been thrown away in the bathroom garbage receptacles since the mandate has been put into effect.
The oppressive nature of the rule, which disallows me and my family from even having bottled water, will cause quite a change to our dietary practices. We are a family that has a “water quota.” We try to drink a certain amount of water on a daily basis. We periodically sip water throughout our waking hours. We also periodically snack on fruits and vegetables. It’s our way of trying to combat the unhealthy lifestyle that can come along with homelessness. My shelter’s new mandate seriously reverses our efforts. Here is yet another incident that makes us feel like we are inmates in a prison.
-The Homeless New Yorker
“These are the same questions you get asked when you get arrested.” -My Case Worker
The aforementioned quote is what my case worker said to me when I asked her the relevance of the questions she was asking me. (Note, she was asking me how many siblings I had and if I was raised in the same household with them.)
Also Note, I have NEVER been arrested. What would give a case worker cause to say something like this in response to a question of relevance, especially to someone who has absolutely no criminal history. I guess these shelter employees think being homeless is a crime.