1,000,000 Ways To Become Homeless

1000000 Ways To Become HMLS

There are a myriad of reasons that people become homeless. There is a stereotype that people become homeless due to mental illness, substance abuse, or poor financial management. While these issues may be a catalyst for homelessness for some people, there are many people who have never grappled with these issues that are still challenged with homelessness.

In Homeless New Yorker’s 1,000,000 Ways To Become Homeless posts, I will explore the varied ways that people find themselves homeless.

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Almost 90% Of NYCHA Was Without Heat & Hot Water Last Winter

NYCHA

According to the New York Post, the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society filed a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain statistics regarding NYCHA.

The information obtained revealed the following troubling statistics about New York City’s housing projects:

  • NYCHA has 174,000 apartments, out of which more than 150,000 went without heat or hot water for a period of time during last winter.
  • 259 out of 326 of NYCHA’s developments went without heat and/or hot water between October 1, 2018, and May 31, 2018.

The New York Post states: “[NYCHA] is under a partial federal takeover because of city mismanagement, including a lead-paint debacle…NYCHA has until October 2024 to reduce heating outages to just 15 percent of apartments during the winter under the agreement City Hall signed with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

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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+

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Man Brutally Stabbed In Front Of A NYC Shelter With A History Of Violence

Stabbing At Aladdin Hotel

At the end of last month, a brutal stabbing took place in front of a Manhattan shelter. The stabbing which occurred at West 45th Street near Eighth Avenue, reportedly involved two shelter residents. The New York Daily News reported that the victim had multiple stab wounds, and police sources stated that “frantic 911 callers described what looked like his intestines spilling out of his body.”

The Aladdin Hotel shelter is allegedly slated to be closed at the end of the year.

The New York Daily News cites the shelter’s history of violence stating that: “Last August, two Aladdin residents stabbed a man to death around the corner from the shelter, after luring him to be robbed.” Also, the news source informs that in August 2015, performers from a nearby Broadway theater production witnessed a man being stabbed outside of the troubled shelter.

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My Housing Nightmare After Homelessness: Part 1

Homeless With Dates Logo

One of the greatest exhales of my life was securing housing after going through homelessness. Unfortunately, however, my relief was short-lived. My expectations and celebration was too quickly shattered when I secured a great apartment in a great neighborhood, but soon found out that my living conditions in said apartment would leave me trapped in an environment that mirrored housing shelter conditions in a very detrimental way.

My new dwelling has been plagued with a sickening, potent drug aroma that rivals the one that was ever-present in the New York City homeless shelters; the same potent drug aroma that caused me to develop smoke-related asthma.

As a newly-created asthma sufferer, thanks to the NYC shelter system, I was especially ecstatic when I secured my new apartment because all through the interview process, it was stressed to me that a no smoking and drug use policy would be strictly enforced by the building’s management. The management company’s admonitions made me believe that I was moving into a “smoke-free environment.” However, instead, I had just signed a lease for an apartment with an environment that, like the NYC homeless shelters, caused: illness, missed days of work due to illness, and the use of an inordinate amount of days to try to get the apartment’s management company to enforce the terms of the lease that barred smoking and drug use on the premises.

It took me approximately a year and a half of phone calls, letter writing, and networking to even make a dent in solving this issue. The problem was so severe that my apartment was constantly inundated with a potent drug aroma like someone was sitting on my couch doing drugs.

I found myself spending the majority of my days documenting what I was experiencing and reaching out for solutions the same way I had to when I was living under the horrifying conditions of the NYC shelter system. I am still trying to make further inroads in dealing with this toxic conundrum. I still have more work to do to ensure that I am living in a healthy, decent environment.

The last few years of my life has been a living, breathing testament to what happens when the basic necessity of shelter is lacking, contaminated, or in limbo.

A lack of decent housing has a domino effect that touches every area of a person’s life, with unexpected nuances that have to be experienced to be fully understood.

My fight for decent housing did not end when my bout with homelessness ended. I am still engaged in that battle. It is an exhausting one. I have experienced battle fatigue, but I have gathered my second wind. I will continue to share my experiences; part catharsis, part helping hand, part empowerment.

Stay strong; New York Strong.

-The Homeless New Yorker

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Are there truly 3 Vacant NYC Apartments For Every Homeless New Yorker?

homeless-new-yorker-city

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
Occupied= 2,103,874
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

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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

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