In his 2016 “State of the State” address, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo made several proposals for how he was going to address homelessness across the state, and especially in New York City. And while some of these are welcome initiatives, homeless people are not excited about everything he proposed. Here are some responses from some of our members:
“Cuomo wants more cops in shelters? What’s that going to solve? We already have DHS cops and private security staff – adding more cops to the mix will only create more tension and lead to more people getting locked up. If Cuomo wants to make shelters better, he needs to talk to the people who live there and find out what’s wrong. You can’t have people who never lived in a shelter deciding what works and what doesn’t. Also, he talks about “expanded homeless services” – like what? If it’s for actual job training, instead of the bogus programs they have now, then maybe, but expanding what’s already out there is not enough. The service we need is housing.” – Jermain Abdullah, homeless shelter resident
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“The answer isn’t better shelters, it’s more housing. Even the best ones are overcrowded and insufficiently staffed. Instead of putting all this energy and resources into making shelters better, they need to be dismantling the whole shelter system. We’re stuck in these places for years at a time. It’s a huge waste of money and it keeps people destabilized. We need real housing, for all people with extremely-low-incomes, because supportive housing isn’t enough. It’s more expensive than regular housing, and it’s only for certain folks. Case workers are forever trying to pressure people into accepting a diagnosis or saying you have a drug abuse problem, because otherwise there’s no housing options out there. And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to claim to be crazy just to get an apartment.” – Charmel Lucas, homeless shelter resident.
“Lots of people don’t qualify for supportive housing. If you are on a fixed income, don’t have a mental illness or a substance abuse problem, you still need a place to live and you can’t afford to pay rent in New York City.” – Arvernetta Henry, public school teacher, 4.5 years in homeless shelters