All New York City homeless shelter residents should keep a THOROUGH journal/accounting of EVERYTHING that goes on during their residency in a shelter. This includes times, dates, names, descriptions of events, any communications with administrators, sign-in and sign-out times, housing-search efforts, and ANYTHING else that is relevant to your shelter situation. Be sure to make back-ups in a variety of formats, and store them for safe-keeping. If you follow this advice, you will thank me later!
Secondly, homeless shelter residents should subpoena a copy of their Department of Homeless Services (DHS) files from DHS. Carefully review your files and compare them to your accurate accounting and chronicling of events. You MUST know what is being written in your file, and what may be purposely omitted from your DHS file. This is extremely important because in most cases, as a homeless shelter resident, shelter and DHS administrators treat you in accordance with what is written in your file.
I have come into contact with shelter administrators who regard what is written in residents’ DHS files as gospel. Due to the gravity that is associated with these files, residents MUST be equipped with the knowledge of what they contain.
Homeless New Yorker
In Crown Heights’ continuing battle to stop the influx of homeless shelters inundating their neighborhood, a group of residents have successfully received a temporary restraining order against the full opening of a shelter on 267 Rogers Avenue. The courageous opponents of the shelter’s opening are demanding that the new building be completely designated for affordable housing.
The 267 Rogers Avenue shelter reportedly has the capacity to house 132 families. The shelter allegedly moved 10 families into the facility before a judge ordered that there be no further move-ins until future rulings are made.
A Crown Heights block association president, and plaintiff in the case against the 267 Rogers Avenue shelter, is quoted in an article on DNA Info as stating, in reference to the homeless families: “We’re not looking to kick them out. We want them there permanently.”
The opponents to the shelter are not just asking that the City abandon its plan to open the shelter. They are farsightedly seeking permanent affordable housing for their community.
According to an April 5, 2017 DNA Info article, the 267 Rogers Avenue shelter, “will share space with affordable housing tenants who will use 20 percent of the new building’s apartments.” I find this baffling!! I’ve never heard of the City implementing such a plan. Who would pay rent to live in a homeless shelter?
The plaintiffs in the aforementioned lawsuit are hoping that the judge rules in their favor and mandates that the facility be used 100% for low-income/affordable housing.
The next hearing date regarding the shelter is on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 2 PM. Kings County Supreme Court, 360 Adams Street, Room 461.
“You mind as well build a bubble and put yourself in a bubble because everywhere you go you’re going to interact with weed or cigarettes because people do that in the street.” -A shelter staff member’s response to my complaint about the drug smell that constantly seeps into my room. (This response was made after the staff member refuted my claim of the constant drug smell that seeps into my room on a daily basis.)
The constant drug smell that seeps into my room, adversely affecting my health; and the total lack of housing-search help; makes me feel trapped in this ridiculously, convoluted and broken system.
The aforementioned quote, as well as a variety of other responses I received from shelter staff and administrators, regarding my experiences with the intense drug smell that constantly seeps into my room, is purportedly supposed to be a deterrent to speaking up about such things.
What I’ve experienced in the New York City shelter system conveys the message that administrators and staff would rather suppress complaints than address them.
Make a legitimate complaint and you’re bound to be: Chastised like a petulant child by an administrator via their raving phone call; shipped off like a chattel slave to another shelter without reason, or your consent; and be met with feigned incredulousness that a problem even exists. I’ve been burdened with all of the above, and more.
The fact that legitimate complaints fail to be addressed in the New York City shelter system hurts everyone. By ignoring legitimate complaints, the system opens the door for bigger problems to emerge. Neglecting warning signs is never beneficial to anyone. Unfortunately, I’m in a situation where my environment has been “managed” by people who do just this. This system compounds any problems the people within it may be experiencing. Enter the system with strictly a housing issue and you’ll be burdened with employment issues, health issues, and a bevy of other never-experienced quandaries.
SIDEBAR: I challenge any non-drug using shelter administrator, shelter staff member, or Department of Homeless Services administrator to stay in my shelter room while everyone in the shelter is carrying on as usual (i.e. not in their an-inspection-is-happening-clean-up mode), and see how long their health and well-being remains in tact. SMH!
According to an August 21, 2016 New York Daily News article, this year, the calls made to New York City’s complaint line, 311, regarding grievances from New York City’s homeless shelter residents has had an approximately 50% increase from the same time last year. The article states that 10,500 such calls have already been made to 311 thus far in 2016. The voluminous amount of complaints seems to be a challenge for the hotline to manage.
Interviews by the Daily News with New York City homeless shelter residents garnered the feedback that shelter residents’ 311 grievances are going unheard and unresolved. A shelter resident stated that a bevy of women who reside in the same shelter with her have called 311 seeking help and relief from unsavory shelter conditions, but it has been to no avail. The source states that the residents of her shelter are treated like dogs and inmates.
The question remains: What is the best way for New York City’s homeless shelter residents to get their grievance heard AND resolved?
I started this website after I entered the New York City homeless shelter system due to my family’s housing issues. Early on in my residency in NYC shelters, I experienced administrative red tape that created debilitating obstacles that threatened my employment, my physical health, my ability to secure housing, and a slew of other life-sustaining factors.
My red-tape experiences were the catalyst for the creation of this site. I felt it was necessary to create an outlet that would allow me to express exactly what I was going through as a homeless person in New York City.
Upon creating this website, it was my intention to remain completely anonymous on this online vehicle. However, as I began to speak out online and contact Department of Homeless Services administrators, via my online handle, regarding the issues I was experiencing in the shelter system, I was coaxed into revealing my identity to various online liaisons under the guise that they were seeking to address my issues, and rectify the problems I was facing. In good faith, I revealed my identity to them. I wish I could tell you that my issues with the shelter system’s level of competency and red tape has been properly addressed and solved. However, as of today, I emphatically cannot!
Despite writing several letters detailing how administrative protocols and incompetency are adversely affecting me and hindering me from securing proper housing, I am still in the same red-tape boat; only now my identity as the Homeless New Yorker is known to certain departmental members/units in the Department of Homeless Services.
I will still continue to speak out on this website. I have a slew of information and firsthand experiences that I will continue to share in the hopes that we can collectively make this system better. Our lives depend on it.
Love, Peace & Humanity,
Homeless New Yorker