“The Brooklyn Wars: The Stories Behind The Remaking Of New York’s Most Celebrated Borough” By: Neil DeMause
“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
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.
Homeless New Yorker
NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio spoke with the New York Daily News about his first term in office as mayor, and his hopes for the future of the city. He reportedly stated that he has regrets regarding the manner in which his administration handled to homeless crisis.
He is quoted in the New York Daily News as stating the following regarding his strategies for grappling with the city’s unprecedented homelessness quagmire: “Obviously, I am not happy with where we stand on homelessness…We did that wrong and I take full responsibility for taking so long to put together a holistic plan. That’s on me and my team. To end homelessness in New York City, I don’t know how and when that happens…On homelessness, I think we’re talking about a long war and people should be honest about that.”
According to a recent interview on DNA Info, a study that was done by the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students, has found that: “One out of every 10 New York City students were identified as homeless [during] the last school year.”
I am not certain if this figure is exclusive to only the public school system in NYC, or the NYC school system in its entirety. However, with, reportedly, approximately 1.1 million children in the NYC public school system, the aforementioned statistic means that at least 110,000 children in New York City have been homeless during the last school year.
With numbers this high, why isn’t homelessness the premier issue during this upcoming New York City election?
HMLS New Yorker
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
With homelessness in New York City being worse than what it was during the Great Depression, you would think that it would be a major issue in the upcoming New York elections. This can also be said in elections that affect the whole country, as homelessness is increasing in many States in America.
Is homelessness not a major issue addressed in elections because:
• Politicians don’t think homeless people, or people who care about homeless issues, vote?
• Homelessness is not “where the money is,” unless the homeless are being exploited by the system and not helped by it?
• Politicians feel that homeless people are the “underbelly of society”; therefore, their issues don’t need to be addressed?
• Politicians have the option, and the power, to tune out the voices of people who are crying out for help?
• Politicians avoid making homelessness a “hot topic,” because it might awaken too many people to realize that they are paycheck away, and this could cause a political uprising?
• Politicians don’t want to fix the homelessness problem?
• Politicians are disconnected, and/or don’t care?
• Politicians think if they ignore the problem, it will magically go away, or people won’t notice the problem exists?
• They don’t feel like their election is contingent on this issue, and they don’t care about the people they are supposed to represent enough to address it?
Whatever the reason is for the neglecting of this issue, I am predicting that this issue is not going to be ignored much longer. This won’t be because of the goodness-of -heart of the majority of our elected officials, obviously. This will be because, across the country, particularly in gentrified areas, and particularly in New York City, the homeless numbers are swelling; and by virtue of the laws of physics, you can only sweep so much under a rug before an explosion happens and dirt is all over the room. With the epic numbers of homelessness in the city, and with the treachery people are faced with when they enter the homeless system, the issue demands to be addressed and solved.
-The Homeless New Yorker