Red Tape: How Do You Prove You Went On A Job Interview?

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

If you inform shelter administrators that you went on a job interview, expect to be asked to show proof.

I informed my shelter administrator that I went on a job interview. My subsequent Independent Living Plan (ILP), a document shelter residents are expected to sign on a bimonthly basis, said that I had to show proof that I went on the interview. How exactly am I supposed to do that?

How do you show proof that you attended a job interview? Short of having a camera crew filming the actual interview, how do you prove you were there? Do you make an abnormal request to the interviewer to write a letter stating that you attended the interview? Good luck on getting the job after making that kind of peculiar request.

Hypothetically speaking, even if you do get a letter or some kind of document stating that you attended the interview, how you the administrators verify the document’s authenticity? Would they call the establishment you interviewed with in order to verify you were there? Again, good luck with getting the job after a shelter administrator inquiries about your whereabouts like you’re a parolee.

I can’t quite understand the reasoning behind attempting to implement protocols like this. Yet, there are people holed up in their room doing drugs morning, noon, and night. Who is “verifying” their activities?

I desperately need affordable housing now! Being in this system, which is rife with red tape, is detrimental in so many ways. Where is a “housing specialist” when you need one?


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


Update On My Pending Chattel Slavery-Like Ship-Out: Part 1


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…


The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The 9-1-1 Non-Believer Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“[Insert Shelter Director’s Name] doesn’t believe in 9-1-1.” -A Shelter Security Guard

I overheard a shelter security guard making the aforementioned statement to co-workers while they were discussing the protocols of what to do when a serious incident happens in the shelter.


Maybe My Shelter Expects Me To Yoga My Way To Housing


Businesses, organizations, and institutions that operate ineptly often attempt to create window-dressing to cover up their ineffectiveness. For months, I’ve been expressing to homeless services and shelter administrators that I need tangible housing help that they are failing to provide. I’ve also consistently expressed dismay with administrators continuously exhibiting incompetence when it comes to their meeting scheduling practices, among other valid complaints. These very important issues have yet to be properly addressed, and still persist. Yet, instead of providing, and improving, services they profess to provide, my shelter has introduced weekly yoga classes.

Granted, yoga classes are a nice gesture. There are residents who can perhaps benefit from this activity. However, when you look at the big picture and see the obvious gaping holes that exist in the services provided, the protocols that are implemented, and shelter conditions (which includes violence and rampant drug use), one could easily become perplexed and befuddled about how a shelter immersed in so many problems can find the time to conduct yoga classes.

Yesterday, I attended my shelter’s mandatory bi-monthly meeting with my case worker. I was provided with zero housing recommendations; no answers on how to get a housing voucher, or a “required” open public assistance case- despite several written inquiries requesting this information for months; and no reasonable explanation as to why I was, yet again, stood up by a shelter administrator for a “mandatory” meeting on Friday. Also, during this obligatory meeting, administrators attempted to get me to sign documents that contained false information, and contained clauses that could potentially violate my rights (more on that in a future post).

In the midst of all of this going on, during the aforementioned bi-monthly meeting, I noticed that my case worker had a huge handmade posterboard chart in her office that was purportedly created to track yoga progress. Where is the chart that tracks how many shelter residents the shelter has successfully placed in housing?

In the words of a venture capitalist who entitled a section of his book, “Why dogs at work and yoga aren’t culture”: “Yes, yoga may make your company a better place to work for people who like yoga…It will not establish a core value that drives the business and helps promote it in perpetuity. It is not specific with respect to what your business aims to achieve.” (Ben Horowitz)

What exactly is my shelter aiming to achieve? Providing yoga doesn’t exempt you from your professional responsibilities; nor does it camouflage incompetence and gross neglect. Also note, this is the same shelter that forbids residents from having bottled water; yet, now they’re so “health conscious” they have yoga classes…SMH!!


The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Get Used To Being Homeless Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“Is this your first time being homeless? You’ll get used to it.” –A Shelter Director

The above-stated question and statement is what a shelter director said to me when I balked at having to wait for over three hours before she spoke with me.

No one should ever “get used” to an abnormal way of life, or to disrespect. Note that this director walked past me several times while I was waiting for her and never explained that there would be a long wait or a delay. She never addressed me while I was waiting, period. In addition to this, I was the only one waiting to meet with her. There were no long lines, or a crowd vying for her attention. There was absolutely no way for me to get “lost in the crowd.”

Also, how high is the NYC homeless shelter return rate if this shelter director saw fit to ask me if I had ever been homeless before? This wasn’t the only time I was asked this question by a shelter administrator. It seems like anytime I express dismay with the improper behavior of administrators or staff, I get asked that question. That’s proof positive that the system seeks to “break” residents, and get them to accept improprieties they shouldn’t accept.

-The Homeless New Yorker


The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Smoke/Drug Smoke Free-For-All Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“There’s nothing we can do. We tell them to stop smoking, and as soon as we walk away, they light up again.” -A Security Supervisor To A Subordinate

Meanwhile, this same security supervisor was joking about writing people up yesterday. SMH.

There is a persistent smell of drugs in the shelter I reside in, so much so, it is making me sick. The shelter I reside in sees fit to stop people from coming into the facility with bottled water and any type of food (an update on that later), yet all kinds of drugs are being smoked in the facility and the security supervisor shrugs it off.

All the inspections in the world haven’t stopped the rampant drug use. There’s no one to complain to when the above quote is the pervasive attitude by the staff towards smoking in the facility. Yet, I can’t have bottled water, or any kind of food items in the facility. I feel like I reside in a drug den. The non-stop smell of drugs constantly seeps into my room. It often feels like the drug smell is coming through the vents as well. I NEED PROPER HOUSING NOW!!


The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Ask Your Case Worker Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“Ask your case worker.” This is the response I get when I call 311 or the city’s housing hotline seeking information. There is a refusal to provide information and answers to requested questions.

If my case worker and shelter administrators were knowledgeable about the information I was seeking, I wouldn’t be spending hours out of my week seeking answers.

In addition to this, there needs to be transparency of procedures and protocols. There is no place online where you can get a step-by-step procedural guide for applying for the services you need. Also, administrators do not provide you with definitive answers on how to get the help that you need. This allows for administrators to give you the run-around on a whim, or provide you with misinformation. It also allows for a grossly negligent waste of time, and other assets, when applications for supposedly available services have to be filed over and over again to no avail.

Why is there no transparency?! Answer this and we might get to the bottom of a few things.

Why is there a big secret concerning the step-by-step process of certain protocols. An administrator will tell you one thing. You follow their instructions to the letter, and you still find out later that you have to start all over again because something was negligently omitted or unknown.

When you ask for the procedures in writing, you’re told by administrators the procedures don’t exist in writing. IMPOSSIBLE. How did the protocols get created in the first place? It has to be in writing somewhere; or are they just making it up as they go along? SMH!


The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Most Accurate Quote About Bureaucracy Ever

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline- a problem that largely goes away if you have the right people in the first place…Avoid bureaucracy and hierarchy and instead create a culture of discipline” -Jim Collins

DHS and HRA can you hear me? If you really want to fix the problem…


The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Forced Welfare Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

ME: We need housing help.

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE CASE WORKER: You have to apply for the total package, including medical benefits, food benefits, and cash benefits.

ME: We are working people, and we don’t want to become dependent on the system. We don’t want or need medical benefits, food benefits, or cash assistance. We just need housing help.

PA CASE WORKER: You still have to apply for everything.

5 Minutes later when we question some of the protocols the public assistance case worker tells us about:

PA CASE WORKER: The system is set up that way because so many people scam the system.

ME: But we’re telling you we don’t need or want the benefits that you’re forcing us to apply for; that we just need housing help. How can the system complain about scammers and at the same time force people to apply for benefits they tell you they don’t need.

PA CASE WORKER: *Blank Stare* (Cannot answer the question).

This aforementioned scenario played out three times with three different public assistance case workers. My family was forced to go through the public assistance application process three different times in four months due to the failure of various entities/agencies involved in the application process to properly process/file the correct forms, among other improprieties.