Sunday, December 8, 2013

Housing. Frustration. Terminal.


Frustrations are mounting. Sean has more and more stuff here. He’s trying  very hard. He’s got all these things, antiques, he says, probably very valuable….he says, but….

Rachel comes in to talk, and as much as I have missed her, have worried about her, I’ve forgotten that within fifteen minutes she always makes me want to shoot her or myself. And part of it is not about her, but simply the fact that anyone who has been a professor at Hunter and in her own Upper Eastside apartment should ever be homeless. Even if she is crazy. She wouldn’t survive a night in the  shelter system. For every idea I have, she’s got a yes but…and I’ve got no ideas left.

George is back keeping his vigil and I don’t even want to get into that.

Part of my frustration is the growing realization that the homelessness issue is intractable. We realize that the numbers double under the Bloomberg administration and that last year alone saw an increase of over 15,000. And according t some reports that incoming Manhattan Borough President Gale brewer has seen, the number may be as high as 56,000 including  many more families and children. 

What is criminal is the combination of cutting rent subsidies for low income people on the one hand forcing  people into homelessness and the privatization of  shelter provision with cynical names like Housing Solutions reward the most unscrupulous of  bottom feeding capitalists.

Today’s New York Magazine featured a story describing  how the worst slumlords drove people out of poorly maintained housing units then converted them to hotels advertising only in Europe and then when the jig was up on that game converting to private homeless shelters contracting  with the city. The insanity? Obscenity? Is that the average subsidy keeping someone housed was $300 a month. The city now pays $122 a night to house someone in  a private shelter, or close to $3800 a month. For half that amount they could get a market rate apartment! All the while, the violence and lack of security of the shelters f=drives away all but the most desperate with people preferring the streets.

And so to Rachel, to Joe, to Keith to Sonnie all I can say is that I have nothing to say. My contacts and resources can’t help then where they are. Maybe a new mayor? But for now, I have nothing to offer…

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