Monday, December 20, 2004

Some guy claims plenty of free housing

by: hajgora7 (44/M/Georgia, USA) 12/20/04 01:52 am EST
My experience in New York City did not bear this out. Things may have changed since 1989 but I kind of doubt it. Especially since Giuliani.

Of course we have to credit Giuliani with making the streets safer in Manhattan. By the time I returned, by jet plane this time and not Greyhound, in 1994 you could walk safely pretty much everywhere from Central Park to the tip of lower Manhattan, even at night.

I recall having to line up around 4 pm or earlier to try to get a spot in the shelters for the night. Now if you had a job which lasted past 3 pm, this might be hard. I think you could show proof of employment. I was harder on those who were looking for work, to have to try to get back early. And you were not guaranteed a bed, especially in cold weather. I migrated from a city shelter in the Bowery to one in Keener, near Flatbush, to another in Harlem, where I heard an old man had been assaulted and robbed the night before. It was around then that I learned to put my shoes under the bed posts, actually lifting the bed and putting the bed post on each shoe so no one could steal the shoes at night.

One day a young man, kind of big and barrel chested, kept asking me questions. He wanted to know what my drug and liquor habits had been. I didn't really want to talk about my past that day. He didn't like my refusal to talk, so he assaulted me with his fists and belt. I knew that I would also be found guilty if I hit him back, so I didn't hit back, and just curled up in a ball. While I got pretty bruised up, I kept my bed and place at the shelter--this was Volunteers of America shelter at Ward Island. No not Rikers Is. just Ward Is. next to the mental hospital where they filmed One flew over the cuckoo's nest. Anyway, this guy had served time in prison for murder one, was the story, and he was waiting for me outside the shelter property.

The Black Moslems had observed my studious habits, and learned that I was a man of faith. Through a couple of them, I got protection and mediation so that the offender called off his vigil for vengeance. There were no further incidents of the kind, though the shelter authorities thought it safe to move me to the mental ward so that I would be kept under safer watch, and away from the rougher clients, a good number of whom were gang members or violent recidivists.

While it is true that there are many empty houses and trailers, many of these are not available to the homeless. Some of this is due to management, some due to communications, some to location. It takes a lot of logistics to arrange occupancy, safe and clean housing, remuneration to the owners, and so forth.


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