When you reside in a shelter, you are mandated to attend regularly scheduled meetings called Independent Living Plan (ILP) meetings. These meetings are conducted by your assigned case worker.
The tone and context of these meetings are akin to what I would imagine parole meetings are like. They mostly have a disciplinary type of function. During an ILP, you sign your room check form for the random room checks that are performed weekly; you sign a document that says you will continue to follow the rules, take off your belt before you come through the metal detector, keep any meetings the shelter decides to schedule for you at their whim, etc.
The ILP meetings don’t provide any tangible help for you to get housing. Although your case worker is also supposed to be your “housing specialist,” they don’t provide you with any valuable help to assist you in securing housing. (I’ll elaborate on that in a future blog post.) I say this to say, it was during an ILP meeting that I, by chance, discovered that violent sex offenders reside in the same shelter I do.
During one of my ILP meetings, my case worker carelessly left an array of documents containing people’s personal information out on her desk. Among these documents carelessly left askew for any and all to see, were sex offender papers.
No, shelter residents are not alerted to the fact that they are living in close-quarters with violent perpetrators of sex crimes. I found this out because my case worker did not honor the confidentiality protocols that require that personal documents are not left out in the open.
Upon further investigation, I recently found out that there are several violent sex offenders residing in the shelter I currently reside in. This should not be allowed. Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly. This week, I discovered a few exposès that exposed other NYC homeless shelters that have violent sex offenders living amongst women and children unbeknownst to them.