Why NYC Mayor’s Recent Statements On Homelessness Should Cause Great Concern

HMLS New Yorker

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.

-The Homeless New Yorker

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NYC Mayor Admits To Mistakes Regarding Homelessness, Says It’s A “Long War”

HMLS New Yorker

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio spoke with the New York Daily News about his first term in office as mayor, and his hopes for the future of the city. He reportedly stated that he has regrets regarding the manner in which his administration handled to homeless crisis.

He is quoted in the New York Daily News as stating the following regarding his strategies for grappling with the city’s unprecedented homelessness quagmire: “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.”

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Homeless New Yorker Stat: 10% Of NYC Students Homeless

HMLS New Yorker

According to a recent interview on DNA Info, a study that was done by the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students, has found that: “One out of every 10 New York City students were identified as homeless [during] the last school year.”

I am not certain if this figure is exclusive to only the public school system in NYC, or the NYC school system in its entirety. However, with, reportedly, approximately 1.1 million children in the NYC public school system, the aforementioned statistic means that at least 110,000 children in New York City have been homeless during the last school year.

With numbers this high, why isn’t homelessness the premier issue during this upcoming New York City election?

-The HMLS New Yorker

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PayPal CEO On Being Homeless For A Day In NYC

PayPal CEO, Dan Shulman, recently did an interview with Alyson Shontell for Business Insider’s podcast, “Success: How I Did It.” During the interview, he addressed being homeless for a day in New York City in order to bring awareness to homelessness- particularly homelessness among the youth. . Here is an excerpt of that below:

“QUESTION: One interesting thing that you did when you were CEO of Virgin Mobile is you spent 24 hours homeless on the streets of New York City, begging for money and food. Why did you do it, and what did you learn?

ANSWER: It was quite an informative and impactful thing for me, not just doing that, but going forward as well. At the time, Virgin Mobile decide that the cause we were going to draw attention to was homeless youth. There is obviously a homelessness problem in the country, but there’s also a couple of million kids who are homeless on the street for different reasons and they don’t really have a voice. They’re usually pretty much preyed upon, and we thought, Virgin Mobile is a youth-oriented service, we want to do something in which we can give back. But I quickly realized that if you want to talk about something, if you want to believe in something, you can’t just intellectualize it, you have to experience it because I think the power of your voice comes from your brain, obviously, but also your heart.

I went with a person who was the executive director of a homeless youth organization, and we met and we basically went in jeans and a T-shirt. I hadn’t shaved in a while. We could only carry a quarter to make a phone call from a pay phone if we were in trouble. We had to beg for money, for food, for coffee. It was only 24 hours, so let’s not turn this into some heroic thing, but what it really did give me is an appreciation of just what people go through and how difficult life is when you don’t have the things that you just take for granted. This carried over as we went into financial inclusion and some other things that I’ve really been a champion of. But actually living what it’s like not having a checking account, not to have a credit or a debit card, and waiting in lines and seeing how much it costs and seeing how much it costs and seeing the environment around you and feeling that sort of indignity that can go on with not having things again that affluent.

QUESTION: Where did you sleep, and how did you eat, and what did you do for that day?

ANSWER: The day goes on forever because you don’t have much to do and it’s hot and we tried to sleep in a couple of different places, but you get kicked out of them quite a bit. So we climbed over a fence and slept in a skateboard park on the Lower East Side. I can only imagine what it’s like for that being your life for the foreseeable future. I became a very fierce advocate for it. I went down to Congress, testified, bought in people like Jewel to come in to testify at Congress. She was homeless for a while as well. We got the Senate to pass some resolutions on it. We gave free concerts, but people had to volunteer at homeless shelters. It was really all about raising awareness for homeless youth.”

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The NYC Shelter System: The New Prison-Industrial Complex

Homeless New Yorker Ad

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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