Homelessness

High End Housing being built right on top of the 7 Train, which likely has homeless riders on it.

Dramatic Increase in Homeless on Streets of NYC (PBS MetroFocus Video PLUS)

Everyday, during my commute from my home in Queens to my workplace in the Bronx, I am awed by the numerous apartment buildings being constructed in Long Island City, Harlem and the South Bronx for “high end” renters. The featured image of this blog entry depicts this construction in Long Island City during the summer of 2015. If you want to see the physical route of gentrification in NYC, simply take out a subway map. Concurrently, I am awed and saddened by the numbers of homeless people I see in the subways EVERYDAY.

33rd Street Homeless Man

33rd Street Homeless Man

Until 2005, New York City’s primary resource for addressing homelessness was to give these families and individuals priority for federal housing programs (public housing and/or Section 8). For 25 years, these resources had been a proven way to move families out of shelters, off the streets and into long-term, permanent homes. In 2005, the billionaire mayor, “king” Mike Bloomberg, changed this and homeless families and individuals were given CITY-funded short-term rental subsidies known as the Advantage program. These short-term subsidies were ineffective and wasteful. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, more than one of every three formerly-homeless families returned to the shelters after their Advantage program subsidies ended. The Bloomberg administration then terminated the Advantage program in 2011 and refused to replace it with the successful federal programs ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/michael-bloomberg-homeless-population/ ). For the first time since modern homelessness began in the 1980’s, there is no housing assistance in place to help homeless families move from shelters to permanent housing.

Mary Brosnahan, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless, discusses the current state of homelessness in New York City with MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman. Click here to watch the video: Dramatic Increase in Homeless on Streets of NYC

Keeping in mind my daily commute, also watch this video where Bill Moyers explores how the changing skyline of Manhattan is the physical embodiment of how money and power impact the lives and neighborhoods of every day people.

Also keeping in mind what I mentioned earlier in this blog entry about the route of gentrification, read this previous blog entry where I discussed “The Gentrification of a Subway Station” : https://theartistworks.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/gentrification-of-a-subway-station/

This is What Trickle Down Reaganomics Looks Like… 

Most people are a paycheck or two away from being homeless. 

Homelessness is all-consuming.  It is not easy to get out of this situation.

How does this happen in the richest country in the world? 

35 years of trickle down Reaganomics.

It is not working. 

In February, the number of people sleeping in New York’s municipal shelters was the most since the Great Depression. I can’t imagine what is going on in other cities. Yet corporations are earning record profits. 

Be an informed voter. 

  

Thanksgiving Greetings from PepsiCo and Selfish, Mean People

Moments before I snapped this picture, a women cruelly said, “He should find someplace else to be lazy and sleepy.” I replied, “It is pouring rain and sleet outside— where should he go? Homelessness is all-consuming and a very difficult problem to solve. You don’t know his story. Stick your head back in the dirt if he bothers you!”

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The Invisible City

The Invisible City

I remember sometime ago, I was standing on the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue waiting for the Express Bus to Queens when I partially witnessed an exchange between two men. One of the men was clearly homeless. I don’t know what caused the exchange or what it was exactly about, but a woman standing next to me said, in a snarky tone, “You know, I get that he is homeless, but you he doesn’t have to be cranky.” I then said to her, “Do you really get it?” She asked, “What do you mean?” I then replied, “Let me ask you this, whenever you sleep somewhere new or not familiar, isn’t it a bit uncomfortable?” She nodded in agreement. “Now try to imagine trying to sleep and not feeling safe? Whether he is on the street or in a shelter he does not feel safe, which means that he is likely not getting sufficient sleep. Then there is trying to eat. Trying to stay clean. Homelessness is all consuming. I could go on.” The woman said nothing further, but appeared to be in deep thought.

Awareness and visibility are the first steps to achieve change.