Homeless Prevention or Homeless Enabling?


Homeless Prevention or Homeless Enabling?
M.D. Wright
7.5.2013

“Homeless Prevention” is an oxymoron if I ever saw one (particularly in New York). The city is required to provide shelter for the homeless who seek it — which is why you saw so many people coming from other states taking up spots in shelters, housing (as they get third preference after domestic abuse victims and the elderly) and others who have been pushed to the brink, with their annual 7% rent increases, the skyrocketing cost of living, and stagnated wages couldn’t even DREAM of getting housing (no more vouchers since 2009) and actual “homeless PREVENTION” services before actually being evicted or forced into the streets. I’ve known a few people personally who tried to go through HPD and ended up living in their car for weeks or even months, and a couple of people — including one woman — who lived in the parks overnight and washed up in the bathroom of fast food joints to go look for work. It’s all a farce.

And to make it worse, Gloomberg is now trying to put people on buses and send them out of the city if they do not have relatives or another contact who they can live with. Some people do not have family elsewhere, and despite a huge influx of people coming from other states broke, with no job and no place to live (knowing the rules on homelessness in the city), they still do not represent the majority of the longtime homeless in New York City; most of whom were forced out during Giuliani’s mayorship and now a whole new generation has been forced out under Gloomberg.

Do you not see what they are doing? The Section 8 system is supposedly bankrupt (they cut the funding in 2009, but still waste billions on things that serve no purpose to humankind whatsoever) so no new housing vouchers were given out. Landlords are now taking advantage of increased market-rate rents and the privatization of former project buildings. Then they require you to have sterling credit, make 40 times one month’s rent in your annual salary (average rent in NYC is about $2,100; meaning you need to be making $85K, or have some serious hood contacts, or be prepared to come up with about 15 stacks out of pocket just to move in), because they CAN — knowing that market-rate will net them sometimes double or even triple what the government would pay out on a monthly basis on a Section 8 voucher.

Landlords can now become even more (racially) discriminative in their tenant selection process, because the stereotype is that people with vouchers are nothing but bad news tenants and bring the overall property value down. It has become a “class” issue just as much as housing has always been a racial and ethnic issue in the city. Add to the fact that wages have actually GONE DOWN on average in the city since 2006, while the cost of living is 20% higher than it was just 10 years ago, and you have a staggering result:

— MORE PEOPLE WITHOUT THE CREDIT SCORE OR SAVINGS TO ACQUIRE NEW LEASES.

— MANY PEOPLE ARE SIMPLY FORCED TO LEAVE THE CITY BECAUSE THEY FLAT OUT CANNOT AFFORD TO LIVE THERE ANYMORE WITHOUT 16 ROOMMATES.

— REVERSE-BLOCKBUSTING OF THE VERY AREAS WHERE WHITE FLIGHT ONCE TOOK PLACE, AS THOSE ONCE-UNSAVORY AREAS ARE NOW DESIRED BY (SOMETIMES THE VERY DESCENDANTS OF THE WHITE FLIGHTS OF THE 60S AND 70S) PEOPLE WHO WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN CAUGHT DEAD IN SOME OF THESE AREAS 20 YEARS AGO.

They are even building brand new homes in the quote-unquote “worst” areas of the Bronx that were ravaged by insurance fraud fires in the 70s. People were scared to even think about stepping foot in Hunts Point or Mott Haven unless they were copping dope or a cheap BJ. Now those people whose older relatives burned out buildings in Morrisania and so forth, are moving in, and driving up the rents. This, in turn, creates the situation that forces willing and able workers who cannot find commensurately-paid employment to leave the city against their own volition.

It is one thing to leave the city because you simply want a change and seek to experience what it is to live elsewhere. It is another to leave because you are forced by circumstances not of your own making; with the greed and disdain by others who simply want you out of the way being the main culprit. When your heart is someplace, you are less inclined to leave unless you are forced out. And there is no more painful thing than to move against your own will.

I almost never play the “race card”, but I have worked in real estate for years and I’ve seen tons of these scenarios play out first hand (including personally). Keep thinking everything is peace and peachy. In about 3-4 years, if you aren’t making close to $100K, you’ll be forced to leave also. That’s what Gloomberg and his cretin minions WANT. It is a shame for some of the people who work within the program, because there are some empathetic people in there (some were even homeless themselves at points in time) who want to help. However, bureaucracy and red tape prevent them from doing much outside of protocol, due to internal auditing and the penalties that come along with bending the rules. This is why expanding government is a colossal failure in the making. Government can never contour itself to suit the unique situations that people face. There are situations that provide some with a loophole, while others come from an honest situation, but the legislation in place does not account for such a scenario, and they are left to fall between the cracks — and sometimes homeless, anyway — without receiving any assistance. Government was never intended to become large and expansive, yet it has, and one of the ways you see the inadequacies of government is at the municipal and state level.

It is almost as if you have to BECOME HOMELESS before the HPD can even begin to help you. If it is “Homeless Prevention,” then why do so many people end up becoming homeless (and are told that they should designate themselves as such, by people who work for the HPD) before they can receive the help that would have otherwise prevented the homelessness that the city loves to claim is declining and being handled well?

In reality, homelessness has skyrocketed in the past five years in New York City, but don’t let the statistics and facts get in your way, Mikey.

Homeless 1

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