The NYC Shelter System: The New Prison-Industrial Complex

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The New York City shelter system seems to be the new prison-industrial complex. However, unlike the treacherous prison system, you don’t have to commit a crime, or be falsely accused of committing a crime, to be ensnared in the New York City shelter system.

The New York City shelter system is comprised of the vast and varied pool of: The employed (including city workers), the unemployed, the old, the young, the middle-aged, the educated, the uneducated, the disabled, married people, single people, the formerly incarcerated, the never incarcerated, the healthy, the sick, the sane, the insane, etc. However, the expansiveness of this pool thinly narrows when it comes to race.

Is homelessness in New York a race issue, just like the disproportionate number of Black people imprisoned? You bet! Black New Yorkers have been “gentrified” out of the City, or into homeless shelters. These shelters are akin to prisons; as they are run as such. As someone who is currently a resident in the New York City shelter system, I can attest to this.

Like the prison system, the New York City shelter system is a profit-driven industry that encourages recidivism, and is not designed for the easy escape of its prisoners. The penitentiary-like conditions, and the red-tape ridiculousness, I confront on a daily basis as a resident of the New York City shelter system is baffling and appalling. When you factor in the fact that the City plans to expand the abominable homeless shelter system, it is clear that there is no plan to abate the dreadful conditions that are being visited upon homeless New Yorkers.

We; the knowing, abled, and concerned; must collectively combat this conundrum. Although there is a privileged group of New Yorkers (aka elected officials) who have been entrusted, and financially enriched, to perform the aforementioned task; it is obvious that something is amiss. We must step up to the plate a fiercely attack homelessness. What is left of our community depends on it.

-The HMLS New Yorker

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NYC Mayor Addresses Homelessness And Affordable Housing At Bed-Stuy Town Hall Meeting

HRA Commissioner Steven Banks also makes an appearance.

I will be analyzing a lot of what was said at this event topic-by-topic on this blog…Stay tuned.

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My Homelessness Has Been A Catalyst For…

HMLS New Yorker

Being trapped in a system riddled with ever-changing protocols, no transparency, mind-boggling incompetence, lack of expertise to solve the stated problem, scattered/inconsistent “professional” advice, and a myriad of other unfortunate euphemisms, is akin to being caught in quicksand.

So many people give up and resign their fate to a callous system because they recognize that the more they fight, the more they get stuck. Speak up about the gross negligence you experience; you’ll constantly be scheduled for case conferences that administrators never show up to, while your family loses income and jeopardizes their jobs to show up to meetings that never happen all under the duress that you’ll be kicked out of your shelter if you don’t attend. Gain momentum in connecting with the community that your shelter is located in; you’ll be transferred from your shelter without your consent, without fair warning or reason, and with inconsistent moving dates that cause more loss of income. Reach out to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to look for solutions for what you’re experiencing, and for tangible housing help so you can get out of the system; you’ll be virtually ignored, or be given insultingly ineffective rhetoric while you spend precious time and money to send faxes and certified letters looking for reasonable answers that are never given. Reach out to DHS’s Ombudsman Unit; you’ll still receive the same insultingly ineffective rhetoric with a snappy retort that let’s you know they see you and your serious issues as an annoyance, not as a duty to fulfill their mission statement. All of the above and more has happened to me and my family.

I have reasonably went through all of the “proper” channels that supposedly exist internally in the homeless shelter system. When that was to no avail, I began to reach out to entities outside of the system to seek some type of relief or recompense. Like I stated above, once I started to gain momentum, I was shipped out of my shelter like a chattel slave or prisoner. (CLICK HERE for details on that.)

I have diligently, independently looked for affordable housing for years. Unfortunately, as a lot of New Yorkers have lamented, the city is not kind to working-class citizens. The “professionals” within the homeless system have offered me no tangible help. I have, thus far, via the advisement of homeless administrators, only been matched with realtors who have either never returned my calls, or haven’t dealt in real estate in months, have disconnected numbers, or have been out-and-out scammers. (I’ll elaborate on these experiences in the near future.)

I am now at the point where what I have been experiencing has lead me to research laws, legal precedents, and a bevy of other things that relate to my current housing situation. Also, towards the end of last year, I began to once again attend community council meetings; a practice I participated in for years until my schedule disallowed it.

Based on my experience thus far, I believe that in order to solve the problem of my homelessness, I must delve deeper into the raison d’être for its existence. I must also get familiar with the policies that relate to homelessness. This is tough to do when there is a lack of transparency, and so much confusion, in the housing system. However, I will continue to push forward.

It is shameful that a person has to navigate such waters via such a circuitous route in order to get a basic life necessity, but I will continue to do so to the best of my ability. You have to have the skills of a CEO and the sleep patterns of an elephant to navigate this system. SMH!

Stay tuned. I will share what I am learning.

-The HMLS New Yorker

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Exorbitantly Priced Hotel Rooms Reportedly Serving As Homeless Shelters

HMLS New Yorker

A report recently released by the city’s comptroller, Scott Stringer, states that thousands of homeless people are currently being sheltered in hotel rooms.

According to NY1, “The Comptroller says the Department of Homeless Services is using hotel rooms to shelter nearly 6,000 homeless people, compared with just over 300 last year.” The Comptroller reportedly estimates a daily cost for the hotel lodgings at $400,000. Some of the hotel bookings are said to cost several hundred dollars for a single night.

The aforementioned tabulations makes one wonder why cheaper alternatives haven’t been implemented or explored. While it’s a positive that the City is aspiring to shelter the homeless, why isn’t the City taking this money and using it to build more public housing? With the high amounts of money being spent to purportedly eradicate a homeless problem that keep exponentially increasing, what is being done to intelligently earmark funds into programs that actually work? Why is this situation so grossly mismanaged? How much of this problem stems from the City’s current administration, and how much is inherited? Is someone’s “hands in the cookie jar”?

As someone who has personally spent an inordinate amount of time trying to navigate their way through the suffocating red tape of the shelter system to affordable housing, I can tell you firsthand that the housing “help” offered by the shelter system is less than zero; meaning, their version of “help” will have you spinning your wheels and wasting valuable time and money.

I don’t understand how billions of dollars can be spent on an issue to no avail. Where are the experts who can help to better this system? Why is more money being spent while the system is getting worse? Who is the brain trust regarding this issue?

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