“Gentrifier” By: Schlichtman, Patch and Hill
A congressional New York candidate recently tweeted the following about New York City: “For every one person experiencing homelessness here, there are about three vacant apartments.” The website Politifact decided to explore this statement and research its veracity. They found that the statement was pretty close to being accurate.
According to Politifact, there are approximately 63,000 homeless people in New York City; this number breaks down to about 32,000 households. The news source also states the following statistics from a 2017 Housing and Vacancy Survey:
Total rental units= 2,183,064
Vacant (available)= 79,190
Vacant units (not available for sale or rent)= 247,977
Held for occasional, seasonal, or recreational use= 74,945
Sold (not yet occupied)= 11,156
Undergoing renovation= 58,347
Awaiting renovation= 20,283
In legal dispute= 9,626
Held pending sale of building= 5,886
Owner’s personal problems (age, illness, etc.)
Held for other reasons= 27,009
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
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.
Lots of Love,
-The Homeless New Yorker
“Keep constantly in mind that the job of your creative mechanism is to respond appropriately to present environment- here and now. Many times, if we do not ‘stop and think’ about this, we continue to react automatically to some past environment. We do not react to the present moment, and the present situation, but to some similar event out of the past. In short we do not react to reality- but t a fiction. Full recognition of this, and realization of what you’re doing, can frequently bring about an amazingly quick ‘cure.’” -From, “Psycho-Cybernetics” By: Maxwell Maltz
[SIDEBAR: Living in the wicked chaos of the NYC shelter system means that you have to adapt to living in dangerous conditions and comply with unreasonable, counterproductive, and unnatural rules. It is not easy to shake-off the behaviors you have to take on to survive in the shelter system once you finally escape it.
For example, after leaving the shelter system, you may find yourself mentally limiting what you allow yourself to achieve during the day because you are still scheduling your goals around the limitations that you have been previously forced to adapt to. To shake-off the unnatural way of life I was forced to adapt to while homeless, I’ve contemplated the aforementioned quote.]
“The people of a city respond to the mass psychology that dominates the city. If a group of leaders engage in sufficient action to give a city the reputation of being a “live-wire” city, this action influences all who live there.” -Napoleon Hill
We must all contribute, collectively, to making this city a great place to live. Consideration for others, and speaking up for what is right is something that must be valued and relentlessly implemented. I’ve heard more than a few people talk about the declining morals of society. This decline directly relates to the other societal challenges we are witnessing, and how those challenges are being addressed. The “small things” we do, and how we do them, matter greatly.
-The Homeless New Yorker
There’s never a good time to be homeless, but this is an especially difficult time of the year to be without proper housing/shelter. It’s holiday season, and it’s brutally cold outside.
For the people who are “street homeless,” the arctic climate is dangerously foreboding. I’m gathering some winter garments to distribute to those who need them. If you are able to do so, please do the same. Come up with a plan with your family, co-workers, loved ones, etc. on how you can help someone who is out in the cold.
It doesn’t take a large organization, or great wealth, to help. Even if you help one person, that’s a great contribution! It doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Any small gesture is a great contribution to bettering the world.
If you are reading this and you are homeless, keep the faith. Don’t let any person, or circumstance, make you feel that you don’t deserve the best for yourself. This belief will help pull you through. Peace and love to you.
-The Homeless New Yorker
Going through homelessness is a life-altering experience that I will never forget. It has been 6 months since I exited the New York City homeless shelter system; a system that leaves its residents traumatized and “institutionalized” after enduring filthy/unhealthy conditions, debilitating red-tape protocols, inmate-like treatment, and shelter administrators/staff who ate far from altruistic.
It’s taken all of the past 6 months to try to shake off the institutionalized behaviors you are forced to conform to when you’re a resident of the NYC shelter system. It is no easy feat to restore yourself to your normal eating habits, exercise habits, work habits, and other day-to-day normalities after you finally exit the homeless shelter system. After 6 months of trying, I am still not back to all the way normal yet. After all, I experienced and witnessed some pretty extreme things while in the shelter system; things that one does not easily shake off.
There are some irreplaceable things that you will never get back. Without getting into personal specifics, if you are a homeless shelter resident, and you have family out of town, you can not readily tend to family emergencies that are out of your geographic sphere. (Shelter protocols and unwanted intrusiveness makes this extremely difficult, to say the least.) There is time with loved ones that you will never get back. (Again, traumatic and life changing stuff.)
However, despite, and because of, all of the negatives I experienced as a resident in the NYC homeless shelter system, I am seeking to use my experience to help others who are in the not to be forgotten situation I have recently escaped from.
Since leaving the shelter system, I have petitioned the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to receive my files. I wanted to see exactly how these agencies saw fit to document my tenure in their system. Receipt of these files would also serve as a great learning tool into how the system operates, in addition to evidencing how accurately these agencies recorded my dealings and communications with them.
When I finally got my file from DHS, it was chock full of falsities and omissions. In regards to my HRA file, to this day, HRA has still not provided me with something other than a half-page document, which took months to receive.
I attempted to get my DHS and HRA files with the assistance of an attorney, and still, I had to wait an inordinate amount of time to receive the fragmentary files that I got. (The attorney stated that in their experience, this was the longest anyone had to wait to get their files.)
I will continue to speak out about my experiences in the NYC homeless shelter system in the hopes that there will be forthcoming, positive changes. I also want the people who are going through what I went through to know that they are not alone, nor are they imagining the unbelievably egregious things that they are experiencing in the system.
I want people who have, fortunately, not experienced the horrors of the NYC shelter system to know what really goes on. I want to debunk the stereotypes that are associated with homelessness.
I will continue to share my experiences. I will continue to research. I will continue to push for changes, and I hope others will too.
Despite all of the historical injustices that my ancestors have endured here, I have love for this city. I love my community, and the people who have bravely strived. I seek to honor them with my efforts.
-The Homeless New Yorker