I had just turned 8 years old
when this happened; I remembered it as if it was yesterday. My mom and I
migrated from Haiti in the month of July of 2000 and we were staying with a
relative until February of 2001. At the time we resided in a one bedroom in a
private home and the rent was  $400
monthly. The relative informed us that we could no longer stay there because
she found someone who was willing to pay more. At that point my mom and I
became homeless, and had to go to a shelter. The population in New York City
has tremendously increased over the past decade, according to the Department Of
City Planning the New York City population is expected to increase by 3.7
percent from 2010-2020.  This includes
all the five boroughs, with the estimated 3.7 percent growth New York City will
be home to approximately 308,000 more people. With the cost of living as well
as the cost of housing slowly increasing, the city is not fully equipped to
provide shelter for those who cant afford it on their own. According to the coalition
for the homeless, in 2016 there were over 127,652 homeless people in NYC this
includes 45,000 homeless children.

There’s a direct correlation
between the cost of housing as well as the number of working poor people in the
shelters. If there were enough affordable housing the number of homeless people
would decrease. Years ago being homeless meant that you were mentally ill or
you failed to work. . Many of the people who are homeless are also part of the
working class. These are the people who work a forty-hour workweek yet but
still struggles to make enough to sustain a basic lifestyle. According to the
national coalition for the homeless “As bad as it is for
the 44% of homeless people who have jobs and can’t escape homelessness,
climbing out of homelessness is virtually impossible for those without a job.”
About forty-four percent of the people who are homeless have jobs yet they
still struggle to escape homelessness. There are a large number of homeless
families, who are living in the shelter, yet it’s difficult for them to find
low-income affordable housing.

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There’s
another group of people who have gotten so complacent to being homeless that
they refuse all potential help. There’s a difficult task that lies ahead of us
when it come to helping those people. It’s very difficult to keep a homeless
person in the shelter because they are used to being in the streets. Shelters were invented to help
homeless people transition to a more permanent and affordable housing solution.

The question remains how can we effectively take the homeless people from the
streets and into the shelters. From shelters to affordable housing as well as
independence.

There’s a system in place that
is not working because it was created years ago and was not meant to sustain
such a large population of homeless people. Thomas Main in his
recent book titled “Homelessness in New York City: Policymaking from Koch to de
Blasio,” discussed the three phases of homelessness policy in New York City.

The first phase was known as the entitlement phase it lasted from 1978 to 1993,
which occurred under former Mayor Koch and Dinkins. Due to a rise in the number
of homeless people who were sleeping on the streets. Former Mayor Koch decided
to provide housing to those who were in need of shelter. Since the tenants were
not asked for anything in exchange for their free housing people started to
abuse the system.  Because people didn’t
see this as an opportunity to advance ahead they saw it as a privilege, which
would be quickly taken away from them under the Giuliani administration. This
brings us to the paternalism phase from 1994-2004. Former Mayor Giuliani
imposed stricter housing laws and anyone who failed to comply with the housing
rules would then be sent to city shelters. 
One of those laws would prohibit the use of alcohol, which many of the housing
residents would fail.  The
Post-Paternalism Phase came about from 2002 until our current mayor. Former
Mayor Bloomberg aimed to reduce the rate of homeless to just 1/3 of the
population. This policy failed because there were an increase number of
homeless families that was growing at a rapid rate. The Human Resources
Administration recently announced that they would pay one year free of housing
for any homeless New Yorker who agrees to reside outside of the five boroughs.

In
the late 1970’s there was a lack of shelter assistance for men, women and
children from the city.  A lawyer by the
name of Robert Hayes brought a lawsuit against the city called Callahan v. Carey.  Robert Callahan was a man who suffered from
severe alcoholism who was found sleeping in the streets of Manhattan. In
December of 1979, the city was mandated to provide shelter to homeless men. As
long as a person met the welfare standards, the state as well as the city
obligated to provide them with adequate shelter. According to article XVII of
the New York State constitution “Section 1. The aid, care and support of the
needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by such of its
subdivisions, and in such manner and by such means, as the legislature may from
time to time determine. (New. Adopted by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and
approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)”. Winning the lawsuit was a
major win for Robert Haye because he was co-founder of the coalition for the
homeless. Though, Robert Callahan was the claimant in the case, he later died
in Manhattan on the streets as a homeless man. Robert’s struggles paved the way
for many others.

There
is a program that was established in 1971 called the 421-A. This program came
about when most of New York City’s residents were moving into the suburbs. The
421-A program gives a tax break to developers who are building on vacant lands
a ten-year tax exemption. In the 1980’s there was a tremendous increase for the
housing market in the city, especially Manhattan. Because of the rise of the
housing market for certain neighborhoods a GEA was created.  GEA stands for geographic exclusion areas,
those were the areas where the 421-A’s wouldn’t be honored.  In order for the 421-A to be honored the
developers must agree to pay a fair wage to the construction workers. This also
helps with moving the economy forward. Mayor DeBlasio as well as Governor Cuomo
both agreed on this plan. Carroll Kellerman who is president of the Citizens’
Budget Commission feels like the deal could have been better. Since, this deal
is set to rule in place until 2022 this may affect Mayor DeBlasio’s re-election
since he played a pivotal role in the renewal of the bill. Not everyone is
content with the outcome of the bill. “The Association for Neighborhood and
Housing Development,
an advocacy group that has long called 421-a a giveaway to developers,
condemned the new version, saying that it “does little to actually create
affordable housing, with 79 cents of every 421-a dollar spent going to luxury
development and only 11 cents going to support affordability.” The tax breaks
are projected to cost the city a total of $1.4 billion yearly.  The cause will help with the affordable
housing issue, but will also harm another issues budget.  

The
Department Of Homeless Services was created in 1993 and is currently being run
by commissioner Steven Banks. The goal of the Department Of Homeless Services
is to assist people in preventing homelessness. To be able to resolve the issue
is a bit difficult because many people look for help when the problem becomes
unbearable to deal with. There have recently been changes to the Department Of
Homeless Services where they are in direct collaboration with the Human
Resources administration.  This
collaboration allows homeless New Yorks to stay within their vicinity. This
provides them with some stability because they remain close to their support
network, families, schools as well as their neighborhoods. Steven Banks spent
years being advocate for the poor to ensure that they receive a better quality
of life.  But since he’s been in office
the rate of the homeless population continued to rise. A lot of people feel
that Steven Banks has good intentions but being the commissioner for both the
Department Of Homeless Services as well as The Human Resources Administration
is too much for one person to handle.

There
are many city owned shelters in New York City, which caters to both men and
women as well as children. Shelters like the Women In Need (WIN) shelter is
independently owned and provides shelter to women and children.  The shelter started opening its doors to women
and their children in 1983, for just four women who amongst them had six
children.  The WIN shelter has a become a
true definition of a trailblazer. They now provide shelter to nearly ten
thousand women and their children yearly.  The goal of the WIN shelter is to assist their
members to become self-sufficient. The WIN shelter assists their members with
employment search, which is also accompanied by the income-building program.  When a family move in, an essential kit is
given to them.  The kit comes with things
like toilet paper, bed sheets, kitchen essentials and toiletry products.  I firmly believe that once a persons basic
need is met, they start to focus on the things what they want.  The Women In Need shelter is affiliated with
the department of homeless.

The
Fwa is a faith-based organization that believes in caring for our neighbors

Homelessness
is not a problem that has a quick solution but it is a catalyst on many of the
challenges that New Yorkers face. Fifty percent of homeless adults were
homeless as a child; this then becomes a generational problem. Homeless people don’t
usually ask for help because there is this feeling of less value that homeless
people adapt to and no longer fight for their rights. The advantage program was
a program that was established in 2007, which offered subsidies to homeless people
who had a job to assist with paying their rent.  According to a person’s income and household
size, a subsidy was given to assist with the cost of rent. In 2011, Former
Mayor Bloomberg suggested that people were taking advantage of the program and
that the financial support of the program should stop. A month after the
financial support of the program stopped, enrollment in shelters decreased by
seventeen percent. Former mayor Bloomberg said during an interview “One theory
is that some people have been coming into the homeless system, the shelter
system, in order to qualify for a program that helps you move out of the
homeless system.”

Mayor
DeBlasio plans on turning the tides on homelessness by creating a plan to
combat the problem. The Mayor believes that the problem should be prevented, by
keeping people in their apartments to prevent them from becoming homeless,
which also includes rental assistance. If it’s too late for prevention, people
are given access to counsel to stop them from being evicted. Access to counsel
is also given to those who face discrimination from their landlords. Once evicted
homeless people fear going to shelters due to unsafe conditions, to mitigate
the unsafe conditions the number of shelter inspections has been increased and
the number of violations have been decreased. The New York Police departments
also provide security in the shelters. Neighborhood policing has also been
increased to provide security to the neighborhoods outside of the shelters.  The Mayor plans on building ninety new
shelters as well as refurbish old shelters. 
Most shelters will now require for residents to stay in the shelter
during the day for educational purposes. In addition to every new shelter a
community board will be created. The size of the community advisory board will
depend on the number of shelter residents from that community.  The mayor wants everyone to play a role in
bettering our community, which also involves limiting the use of hotels and
clusters. One a shelter site has been chosen members of that community will receive
a notice within 30 days or more. If the community rejects the new shelter site location
they must provided an alternative location.

Being
homeless can sometimes be a lonely predicament to be in, because you’ve been
misplaced from your daily norm. As people are disconnected from their norms
such as their families, their place of worship and their homes the city’s
homeless system can sometimes add to that barrier by making it worst. This is
why we need a radical approach to the homeless situation. We need to emphasize
the role of families,  the roles of the
neighborhood as well as listen to the faith based organizations and community
organizations as they are a part of the long term change to homelessness.

According
to the coalition for the homeless, This unprecedented homelessness crisis demands
bold action by Governor Cuomo who has needlessly delayed or withheld State authorization
to deliver housing based relief to New York City children languishing in shelters.

And despite positive steps to address family homelessness, Mayor de Blasio must
do more. The Governor must enhance rental assistance programs that prevent
homelessness and help homeless New Yorkers move from shelters to their own homes.

Mayor de Blasio must allocate a larger number of public
housing apartments – at least 2,500 per year – to homeless families.

Research
has shown that homelessness cannot be defined by one cause. The issue contains
a complex mixture of societal and individual causes. Individual causes of
homelessness impacts a substantial percentage of the population with
afflictions such as mental illness and addiction. Society has impacted
homelessness with decreases in affordable housing and limited funding compared
to the scope of the issue. The opinion of the public also influences the
solutions developed on local and national levels. As the public opinion shifts,
so follows the policies and media coverage on the matter that leads to either
resistance or welcoming of long-term solutions. Solutions can also be
implemented from community level to global scales.

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