“My name is Jim Pizarro and I’ve been a member of Picture the Homeless for a month. I’m here because PTH fights for housing. The city is full of vacant buildings, and nobody else is fighting for that. The city would rather spend money on jails and shelters than real housing. Seems like homeless people are Public Enemy Number One in this city. Cops see a drug dealer on one corner and a homeless person on the other – and they send the homeless person to jail.
I’ve been homeless since 2012. I was in the shelter for over a year and they did nothing for me. They told me they needed a whole mountain of paperwork for my housing application, and I spent three months gathering documents and bringing them to my case worker. Then one day the director of the shelter asked to see me—told me my case worker didn’t work there anymore. I asked about the status of my housing application and they said they had nothing. All my paperwork was gone. I left the shelter because I didn’t trust them, and they weren’t doing anything for me.
Since leaving the shelter I’ve slept in Grand Central Terminal, on the subway, on 121st Street over by the FDR… right now I’m trying to get a room, jumping through the hoops the city makes me jump through. Social workers have to see me over and over to “prove” that I’m really street homeless – but the police are always coming through, telling me to move along, telling me I can’t sit or sleep on the sidewalk even though there’s no law against it. I’ve been hit by cops, handcuffed, threatened.
That’s why I’m here – to fight for housing, not handcuffs.”