New York – Mayor Eric Adams has recently expressed plans to clean up the city’s subway platform stations. This clean sweep includes systematically removing homeless populations that have chosen to use the subway as a form of shelter. His plans have been warmly received by many New York City commuters that utilize the subway system to travel back and forth to work every day.
“I feel that subways should be for transportation,” said television writer Kenneth LaZebnik. LaZebnik regularly utilizes the subway system to teach and attend work-related events around the city. “The reality is that we all want to support unhoused people and find them habitable living space. Other first-world countries that adequately support their homeless population don’t have this problem. It strangles New York and compromises the ability to transport safely. The subway is the lifeline of the city.”
Removing the homeless people from the subway may immediately solve the transport issue, but leaves leadership with another dilemma. Where will many of these people go? According to Mayor Eric Adams, shelters will be placed in several places in the city, to accommodate the homeless. The induction of these shelters in certain neighborhoods have not been received warmly by its residents.
In Chinatown for instance, residents and council members have taken a firm stand against more shelters in their neighborhood. According to the Gothamist, a convincing argument was raised opposing the induction of more shelters. (Chinatown Community Board Rejects Grand Street Homeless Shelter) Protesters argued that they have contributed enough to Mayor Eric Adam’s vision of a cleaner city. Chinatown currently has six shelters in their community, which are not yet at capacity. In addition to this, the article implied that a high rise in shelters places the community at risk. On Grand Street, Christina Yuna Lee, 35, was stabbed to death in her home. Who was the culprit? A homeless man, by the name of Assamad Nash. Understandably, the tragic incident put a bad taste in the mouth of the community’s residents.
Is there a link between homelessness, and violent behavior?
However, evaluation and further research does indicate that the link between homelessness and violence is actually quite minimal. According to the National Alliance to end Homelessness, people who are homeless are more likely to be the victim of violent crime, than the perpetrator. (Disturbing Realities of Homeless and Violence.) Street homelessness particularly places an individual at risk. Suffering in plain view of others can make others resentful and uncomfortable with their apparent poverty. Many people stigmatize the homeless and look down on displaced peoples as a stain or nuisance to society. Hence, the need to provide these people with further support and shelter.
According to Katherine Sanchez, a social worker at Glenmore Family Residence, the need for shelters in NY is essential, not just for providing immediate needs to the souls that need it, but for their long-term goals, medical and family health. “Many of my clients are women with children,” said Katherine. The shelter provides them with a place to stay and three meals daily, but most importantly we put them on a path to obtaining permanent housing.” Like others throughout the city, Glenmore Family Residence offers its clients access to free medical assistance, public assistance, daycare, mental health referral if necessary, an employment specialist, and a housing specialist. An employment specialist helps residents of the shelter become contributing members of the community by providing them with job listings, free training, and even employment positions within the shelter if applicable. “Obtaining a job within the shelter is highly encouraged,” said Sanchez. “In addition to this shelter residents regularly meet with housing specialists whose sole job is to apply for housing vouchers in accordance with the client’s income. “Each client has an independent living plan or ultimate goal to meet during their stay in shelters,” said Sanchez. We don’t kick anyone out but do our best to make their stay a temporary, but a productive one. We want to provide them with the tools and assistance they need to be able to live independently.”
Indisputably, shelters have great value in the city of New York. But people still don’t want their neighborhoods saturated with them. How do we solve this enigma? Moving forward, where should they be placed? If not Chinatown, where?
Thumbnail Credits: Dean Moses.
- Chinatown Community Board Rejects Grand Street Homeless Shelter
- Disturbing Realities of Homeless and Violence
- Adelola Tinubu from Current Affairs Times interviewed television writer, Kenneth LaZebnik
Adelola Tinubu from Current Affairs Times interviewed, social worker Katherine Sanchez from Glenmore Family Residence