New York City had yet to implement a viable solution to its record breaking homelessness problem. It seems as if the city has been vacillating between sitting on their hands to throwing things against the wall and watching nothing stick.
The city’s most recent attempt to cull the homeless presence in the subway system is a collaboration with the police department that is headquartered in a new “Joint Crisis Coordination Center,” located in downtown Brooklyn.
Via the Coordination Center, NYPD officers watch feeds of dozens of surveillance cameras aimed at various subway stations and platforms. This monitoring program allows the police department to spy on homeless people who are occupying spaces in targeted subway stations. When a homeless person is identified, they are reportedly offered social services and/or are issued a summons and removed from the station.
According news source, The City: “NYPD officials declined to identify the stations currently monitored, saying they’re picked based on a history of ‘quality of life’ issues. The stations watched can change, and cameras will be added in areas where needed, officials said.”
Opponents of this big-brother type of surveillance are opining that this approach is encroaching on the civil liberties of the homeless, and is “more stick than carrot.” The city has yet to come up with an effective plan to deal with the expanding affordable housing crisis.
Tomorrow a meeting will be held at John Jay High School to address two new homeless shelters that are proposed to be opened in Park Slope before the end of 2019.
The meeting, which will be held at 237 7th Avenue, between 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM, will reportedly be attended by elected officials, representatives of the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and representatives of Women In Need (WIN).
The two shelters will be operated by WIN. According to The Bklyner, one shelter, proposed to be opened in September, will be a 148-unit shelter located at 535 4th Avenue. The other shelter, located at 555 4th Avenue, is proposed to be opened in November 2019. It will house 105 shelter units.
NYC is still seemingly attempting to solve its serious housing crisis by building new homeless shelters rather than turning available properties into affordable housing? I’m still unclear exactly what the city’s plan is here. What city official can accurately articulate the city’s affordable housing plan?
Last week, New York City’s Transit president told the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board that he has directed station managers to kick out any homeless people who are lying down in the subway stations.
According to The New York Post, the NYC Transit president, Andy Byford, stated, “Having a seat and getting warm is fine, but I will not tolerate them leaving messes or laying across seats.”
Rebutting a board member who stated, “We need to be aware of the many reasons why people are homeless”; the New York Post reported that Mr. Byford “responded that he wasn’t going to let the homeless affect the comfort of his riders.”
The question is, how will this “zero tolerance” policy be implemented, and what will be the resulting effects?
As many New Yorkers are aware, the city’s housing crisis, along with other factors, has unfortunately turned the subway system into a makeshift homeless shelter at night, especially during the winter months. What will happen to the people who are seeking shelter in the subway station after they are expelled? Where will they go instead?
-The Homeless New Yorker
- New York City public schools have 114,659 homeless students; a record high.
- “New York City has one of the highest populations of homeless students of any big city in America.”
- “There are more homeless students in New York City than people in Albany.”
- “At 144 [New York City] public schools, a third of the children are homeless.”
- “Tonight, about one out of every 10 students in New York City will sleep in a homeless shelter or in the homes of relatives.”
- Last year was the third consecutive year the number of homeless New York City public school students exceeded 100,000.
- “For every 1,660 homeless students, there’s roughly 1 social worker.”
- “Some students have to travel through two or more boroughs to reach school from their shelters; only about half of the city’s homeless families lived in a shelter in the same borough where their youngest child attended school last year.”
- District 10 in the Bronx has the most homeless children out of the city’s 32 districts. It has 10,804 homeless students.
- District 10 “includes Kingsbridge International High School, where about 44 percent of the students who attended the school over the last four years were homeless at one point.”
- “Last year, students living in a shelter missed an average of about 30 days in the school year.”
- Due to living challenges, homeless students are more likely to struggle at school. In New York City, “in the 2015-16 school year, just 12 percent of students living in shelters passed the state math exam, and 15 percent passed English.”
[SOURCE: The New York Times]
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