“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]
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.
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.
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.
“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]
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!!!
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.
When you are a resident of a homeless shelter, for all intents and purposes, you are akin to a “ward of the state.” You are treated as such by being subjected to stringent, unreasonable rules, which are confusingly mixed with ridiculously degrading living conditions. You would think that unreasonably stringent rules would at least be accompanied by efficiency; not in the New York City shelter system.
When you point out the inefficiencies, and the grossly negligent and harmful conditions that exist in the shelter to administrators, they will often respond with the retort of, “You live in a homeless shelter”; or, “You’re homeless.” The reasoning behind these statements is to imply that you should resign yourself to accept the unacceptable because you are homeless. Smh! NEVER ACCEPT WHAT IS UNACCEPTABLE! To do so is to lose a sense of humanity and to suppress your God-given rights. It also is the beginning of starting a downward spiral. Don’t allow anyone to implant destructive ideas into your thoughts.
“We are the victims of our habits, no matter who we are or what may be our life-calling. Any idea that is deliberately fixed in the mind, or any idea that is permitted to set itself up in the mind, as the result of suggestion, environment, the influence of associates, etc. is sure to cause us to indulge in acts which conform to the nature of the idea.” -Napoleon Hill
I concur on what this woman says living in a New York City homeless shelter is like. I’ve experienced the degradation caused by shelter employees and administrators, the adverse effects to employment, the lumping of people together, the oppressive curfew system, the red tape run-around, the lack of tangible housing assistance, the train system being used as make-shift shelters overnight, and much more.
Unfortunately, this is all too common. I have experienced this myself.
I, too, purchased a thermometer to document the temperature of my room. CLICK HERE to see my post. NOTE: The thermometer pictured in my post (in the “CLICK HERE” link) was from May 2017. I can only imagine how high the temperature has risen in some shelter rooms is the midst of the summer season.
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.