Shelter Conditions That Dehumanize

HMLS Shelter Food

The following statement is an excerpt from Coalition for the Homeless’s “State of the Homeless 2019” Report. (This report is a survey, and analysis of the New York homeless shelter system. Also, the following passage is 100% accurate, sad to say. SMH!):

“In addition to the needed capital repairs, the failure to provide routine cleaning and maintenance of facilities is degrading to shelter residents and creates unhygienic conditions. Coalition monitors frequently observe filthy bathrooms, most often at night and on weekends. Shelter residents sometimes have no choice but to try to clean the bathrooms themselves despite lacking proper equipment and supplies. Problems with vermin, including insect infestations, also abound in many shelters.

Certain practices and conditions in many shelters further traumatize and dehumanize homeless individuals. These practices include requiring residents to request toilet paper whenever they need to use the restroom; providing poor-quality, unappetizing food and insufficient portions (while forbidding residents from bringing outside food into shelters); failing to offer frequent laundry services; providing inadequate case management and housing assistance; and erecting bureaucratic barriers that deter those seeking shelter.”

[NOTE: The above picture is from news source DNA Info. It is from a 2015 article entitled, “Jail Has Better Food Than Homeless Shelter Without Kitchens, Residents Say”]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

NYC’s Homelessness Policy Report Card

Coalition For The Homeless Logo

In the Coalition For The Homeless’s most recent report on the state of homelessness in New York, they created a “Homelessness Policy Report Card.” On their report card, they gave New York City the following grades:

Housing Production and Supply: F
Housing Vouchers and Stability: B-
Supportive Housing; C
Homelessness Prevention: A-
Meeting the Unprecedented Need for Shelters: C+
Family Intake and Eligibility: D
Shelter Conditions: C+
Homeless Children and Students: C-

SIDEBAR: I’m not sure how shelter conditions and homeless children and students didn’t both get an F+

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Woman Loses Her Life In A Faulty NYC Homeless Shelter Elevator

Anna DeJesus

Earlier this month, Anna DeJesus, a resident of a New York City homeless shelter run by Project Renewal, died in the shelter’s elevator. Ms. DeJesus had reportedly been complaining about feeling ill before she went into cardiac arrest.

According to ABC7 News, EMT workers quickly arrived at the East 45th Street shelter to give Ms. DeJesus medical attention and transport her to the hospital. However, instead, the medical workers and Ms. DeJesus ended up trapped in the shelter’s freight elevator for approximately an hour; precious and critical time during which Ms. DeJesus passed away. (They were using the freight elevator because the shelter’s main elevator had been broken and out of service for several months. Apparently, the service elevator wasn’t in proper working condition either.)

Anna DeJesus’s relatives and fellow shelter residents feel that she would still be alive had she not been trapped in the elevator, and had been able to get to the hospital in a standard/appropriate amount of time.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) had a different perspective on the situation. They called the circumstances surrounding Ms. DeJesus’s death “a confluence of unfortunate events.” ABC7 News states that, “A DHS official says DeJesus was overdosing and did not respond to naloxone.” Residents at the East 45th Street women’s shelter refute this. [SIDEBAR: Having personally experienced homeless shelter administrators spin a false story to no end, I look at their version of events with wary skepticism. Also, even if she was overdosing from a narcotic, does that mitigate the fact that she died while being trapped in a faulty elevator?]

Further, The Department of Homeless Services has denied responsibility for the condition of the shelter’s defectively deadly elevators. Although DHS owns the property that houses the East 45th Street shelter, their official has reportedly stated that the shelter operator, Project Renewal, is responsible for the maintenance of the building’s elevator.

The shelter has a long history of defective elevators. ABC7 News revealed the following: “Department of Building records show a long list of complaints about the shelter’s passenger elevator dating back several years, including an open violation from last November for failure to fix the elevator.”

Despite billions of taxpayers dollars being poured into the NYC shelter system, so many shelters have potentially deadly conditions of squalor and danger. Why is this? It is inexcusable.

R.I.P Ms. Anna DeJesus. May your soul find peace and justice.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Teen Overcomes Homelessness And Garners 18 College Acceptances

Dylan Chidick and Mom

Dylan Chidick, who is class president at his Jersey City, New Jersey high school, went through a bout of homelessness in 2017. He kept his housing struggles a secret from his classmates; however, his schooling was greatly affected.

In a recent Washington Post article, Dylan described his time at a New Jersey homeless shelter as “really scary.” The shelter’s dangerous environment and restrictive rules caused his grades to slip. According to the Washington Post, “The shelter disrupted his studies, with curfews butting with his habit of doing homework late into the night.” The scholar is also quoted as saying: “I was so focused on never getting back in that situation, that I was just — my studies took a hit… This senior year, I made a pact like: Get straight A’s again.”

After his family secured housing in 2017, Dylan was able to keep his pact. He has thus far been accepted to 18 colleges. Dylan Chidick’s goal is to become an attorney. After being left “shaken” by his experience with homelessness, he plans to dedicate his career to increasing the amount of justice in the world.

In regards to his bout with homelessness, the young king said, “I’m not going to let that one part define me.”

Congratulations! Keep shining young king!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Shelter vs. Street Homeless Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“I had a skateboarding accident. My brain was bleeding. I can’t move my shoulder. I worked in construction, but now I can’t do that job. I can’t do the hammering motion. I tried living in a shelter but it’s worse than jail. It’s mixed up between the crazies, the criminals and the addicts. It’s gross. All night they’re coughing. I have a van. It’s nicer than the shelter. I want to work. I have an interview today for an apprenticeship at a body shop.” -Elliot, 49, newly homeless, hometown San Francisco

[SOURCE: SF Gate article, “We Asked 12 Homeless People What Happened” By: Amy Graff]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Woman Set On Fire At Queens, New York Homeless Shelter

Verve Hotel

A woman was reportedly set on fire inside of a Queens, New York homeless shelter.

According to several news sources, the victim is a resident at the Verve Hotel, a Long Island City Hotel that currently serves as a 200-bed homeless shelter.

Allegedly, the 51-year old victim got into a verbal dispute with another female resident at the shelter, and the woman doused her with nail polish remover and lit her on fire.

Presumably, the identity of the assailant is known. According to PIX 11 News, the perpetrator is a 33-year old woman, who has yet to be apprehended.

Sadly, it is not surprising that a heinous crime such as this one occurred inside of a New York City homeless shelter. The conditions in NYC shelters are extremely dangerous!! Although New York City spends millions on shelter “security,” security is extremely lax in a lot of shelters. I’ve personally witnessed shelter “security officers” sleeping on the job, having sing-alongs and social conversations when they should be working, and a bevy of other behaviors that greatly contribute to shelters being an extremely unsafe environment.

My prayers are with the victim of this unconscionable crime, and with everyone who is sleeping in a shelter tonight.

-The Homeless New Yorker

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Adjusting After Homelessness…It’s My Anniversary

Homeless With Dates Logo

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.

Raw UGod

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

The Homeless New Yorker Red Tape Quote Of The Week: The Queens Family Hotel Edition

HMLS New Yorker Red Tape

“Every New Yorker should be outraged at the incompetence and even cruelty at the Department of Homeless Services. These families and children are ripped from their homes at a moment’s notice, traumatized again because DHS is failing in every way to address homelessness.” -Jimmy Van Brammer (NYC Councilmember) on the sloppy, forced transition of homeless families from a Queens hotel shelter. [Source: NY Daily News]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

NYC Homeless Shelter Administrator Sexual Harasses Homeless Women

HMLS New Yorker

What happens when a homeless shelter administrator sexually harasses shelter residents? Check out the investigative report below on a Brooklyn homeless shelter where women have been allegedly sexually violated and abused by a “housing specialist.” This has been reportedly going on for YEARS at this particular shelter. Sadly, this is not surprising at all.

In the investigative report below, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) spokesperson is quoted as saying the following regarding the sexual abuse: “We have absolutely zero tolerance for this alleged behavior. We are in close collaboration with authorities, and we are seeking this individual’s termination.” His termination? How about his prosecution, and an investigation into a department that should have dealt with this very serious issue years ago? How about some sort of restitution, and services, for the victims? How about an intense clean-up, and scrubbing, of agencies that allow the city’s shelters to be run like corrupt prisons? SMH!!

[SIDEBAR: I wonder how long he has worked for DHS? Probably, quite some time; meaning years of violating and abusing vulnerable homeless women. Whenever you complain of the behavior of NYC homeless shelter staff/administrators, you are likely to be met with the rebuttal of how long the administrator/employee has worked for DHS. This is used as a protective shield by the person engaging in improprieties, and their higher-ups. As if their years of experience means that they are “in the right.” It only means that many NYC shelter administrators/employees are allowed to engage in all kinds of egregious activities with the backing of the agencies they work for. This makes it even more intimidating, and threatening, for homeless shelter residents to speak up. MR. MAYOR, and other public officials, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS? WHERE IS YOIR CALL TO ACTION?!]

Kudos to Jay Dow and his team for their continuously stellar work!!!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

New Legislation Requires Homeless Shelters To Be Prepared For Opioid Overdoses

HMLS New Yorker

Yesterday, legislation was passed by NYC’s City Council that will require that the city trains homeless shelter staff on how to administer naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The new bill requires that at least one homeless shelter staff member who is knowledgeable about how to use a naloxone kit must be on duty at all times. According to the New York Daily News, the bill also states that the city must “come up with a plan to train homeless shelter residents who are likely to cross path (sic) with opioid addicts to use naloxone.”

The city’s homeless shelters are rife with drug abuse; an issue that shelter administrators failed to address, or curtail, in all of the shelters where I was once a resident. In my experience, shelter residents were able to use drugs incessantly with impunity. It didn’t matter to shelter administrators that the drug use was rampant, and making non-drug users sick from the ever-present drug fumes.

In the shelters where I resided, shelter residents were able to do drugs in the shelters around-the-clock with nary a shelter employee intervening. (Shouldn’t shelter administrators have intervened at some point and mandated a treatment program for the obvious users?)

What the city needs to take into account in their implementation of this new legislation is that you can’t expect the same people who allow certain behaviors to proliferate to all of a sudden care enough to save a life because you put a medical kit in their hands, and pay them to attend a training class. The system needs to be revamped. That means extirpating a slew of shelter employees who negligently do their jobs.

-The Homeless New Yorker

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr