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
In a March 28, 2018, New York Post article entitled: “Ex-Deputy Mayor Enlisted To Help Fight The Homeless Shelter” the following is stated: “Department of Homeless Services officials [say] the average price to house [a homeless person] in [a] traditional shelter is about $54,000 per year.”
The average is $54,000 per bed, per year?! SMH! To put that in perspective, according to The Coalition For The Homeless, the number of homeless people living in New York City shelters in February 2018 was 63,343.
$54,000 x 63,343= $3,420,522,000
There’s never a good time to be homeless, but this is an especially difficult time of the year to be without proper housing/shelter. It’s holiday season, and it’s brutally cold outside.
For the people who are “street homeless,” the arctic climate is dangerously foreboding. I’m gathering some winter garments to distribute to those who need them. If you are able to do so, please do the same. Come up with a plan with your family, co-workers, loved ones, etc. on how you can help someone who is out in the cold.
It doesn’t take a large organization, or great wealth, to help. Even if you help one person, that’s a great contribution! It doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Any small gesture is a great contribution to bettering the world.
If you are reading this and you are homeless, keep the faith. Don’t let any person, or circumstance, make you feel that you don’t deserve the best for yourself. This belief will help pull you through. Peace and love to you.
-The Homeless New Yorker
In a recent New York Daily News editorial, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio stated the following:
“Wherever I go, I meet folks who are doing everything right- working hard, making a decent salary and trying to build a better life. In the New York I moved to 40 years ago, that was enough to feel economically secure.
The city had a lot of problems back then, but finding an affordable place to live wasn’t one of them.
It would have been hard to imagine a city where more than half of our people spend more on rent than they can afford, where entire neighborhoods slip out of reach of working families, where even people we once considered solidly middle class ask themselves: Can we still afford to live here?
Well, let me be clear: It’s New York that can’t afford to lose people like you.
This has to be a place where seniors, veterans, working families and the middle class can all afford to live. Otherwise, it’s not New York anymore.” -NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio
Being that Mayor De Blasio is the incumbent mayoral candidate in a political race where he, arguably, does not have any viable opponents, I am deeply interested in what he has to say regarding the state of homelessness in New York City. It is likely that his vision and actions will loom largely over this issue over the next four years.
The mayor recently stated the following regarding homelessness to the New York Daily News: “Obviously, I am not happy with where we stand on homelessness…We did that wrong and I take full responsibility for taking so long to put together a holistic plan. That’s on me and my team. To end homelessness in New York City, I don’t know how and when that happens…On homelessness, I think we’re talking about a long war and people should be honest about that.”
The aforementioned quote is troubling to me because it expresses a lack of confidence and know-how in dealing with the homeless crisis that has exploded in New York City. I also find this quote troubling because the homeless crisis is referred to as a “long war.” The last societal issue that was framed as a war, the “war on drugs,” was a losing proposition and continues to be so decades later. I hope this will not be true of the homeless crisis too.
Homeless New Yorker
Yesterday, thousands of New Yorkers rallied in front of New York’s City Hall in a show of solidarity for affordable housing.
Reportedly, the rally was organized by the Metro Industrial Area Foundation, and was mostly attended by congregants from New York City churches.
According to the New York Daily News, the foundation organized the rally in an attempt to persuade the mayor to back their plan for affordable housing, which “includes building 15,000 apartments for seniors on vacant NYCHA land.
The New York Daily News also states that Mayor De Blasio was invited to attend the rally by the foundation. However, he was instead marching in the Columbus Day parade.
The rally’s high turn-out, in spite heavy downpours, is indicative of the desperation and exasperation many New Yorkers feel concerning affordable housing.