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Why the City of New York should provide me with a private 1-bedroom apartment.

November 28, 2012

According to Picture the Homeless’s pamphlet, Banking on Vacancy, the City of New York pays $3,500 per month for every person living in the shelter system. While in their offices I was shown a poster that stated additional funds the shelter receives if the shelter resident has a documented mental illness. I have passed every psychosocial evaluation I have been put through, both by A.C.C.E.S. and the shelter system. Since Picture the Homeless has been around since 1999, I was referred to them by the Department of Homeless Services Client Advocacy Office, and they have not been sued for libel over this printed claim, we must take this $3,500 figure as given.

On January 15, 2012, I abandoned my 1-bedroom apartment in Morris Heights, the Bronx, after I was offered a job in Jacksonville, Florida. Rent was $981.93, but it was being jacked up to $1,018.75 with the lease renewal coming up in March. Everything I own was moved into a storage unit in New Jersey. That storage unit costs $181 before taxes and fees, for a grand total of $202.67 monthly. The city’s current policy is to pay for the storage of anyone who can provide a letter of residency at a shelter within the shelter system, as long as they have an active welfare case. The first time they did this, they paid the entire bill for two months. The second time they did this, they paid all but the insurance for two months. I most recently brought a residency letter to the Human Resources Administration on November 12, I was told that they pay neither the taxes nor the insurance. I was also told that my welfare case had been closed due to excessive income, even though I requested that my services be continued until the outcome of the fair hearing. I checked my account with Safeguard Self Storage during the writing of this post, and December’s rent remains unpaid. One obligation to remain housed in the shelter system is to save 60% of one’s income to prepare for the initial payments in order to move out. I will have to withdraw from this savings to pay the bill.

I have actually had to ignore several job offers, because they were work-from-home positions. Many of these are scams, but even the legitimate telecommuting positions are a problem, because I rely on a third party for access to computers. The public library and Workforce1 restrict you to one hour per day. I get the majority of my computer access from the Brooklyn College Library. There is a 60 minute limit when others are waiting (and as an alumnus of a different CUNY school, I am third priority after current students and Brooklyn College alumni), but the library has over 300 computers. I have been kicked off the computers here on numerous occasions when it was crowded, although many days I have never had to leave. In addition, the shelter has a 10 PM curfew, which precludes working late into the evening. As someone with a strong background in writing, being homeless is a severe problem in terms of getting work, because telecommuting is so often expected.

I have detailed in previous blogs what little is provided to me by the shelters. For example, breakfast at 3rd Street Shelter is served from 6:30-7:30. I arrived downstairs at 7:15, and everything was gone except the cereal, milk, and orange juice. I’m not sure what else they had, but the cream cheese means that there were probably bagels. The bagels here are better than at Eddie Harris, which also never provide cream cheese, just two pats of butter. Dinner is from 5-6, which is stupid when you’re sending people out on job search. Last night, I arrived at 5:50, and was given mushroom pot roast and mixed vegetables, but the whipped potatoes were gone. I get food stamps in addition to this, but they are of little use because I can’t store or cook food at the shelter, and outside food is permitted only at the ridiculous designated meal periods. I was raised with dinner at 8. Dinner at 5 is ridiculous to my mindset. It’s also a shorter period between lunch and dinner than between breakfast and lunch. Part of the money I’m sure is to send me to a place like ResCare, but their own doctors admitted that I need a desk job, and their own home page shows they have work available in two categories: retail and food service.

If the city would spend $1,000 to $1,500 for me to have my own, private, 1-bedroom apartment, that would alleviate the storage fee as soon as I got my belongings moved, which I could easily do with my savings. I know the right-wingers will say that I’m asking for a handout, but my proposal costs $2,000-$2,500 less than the current situation, and is therefore better for all parties involved except the shelter staff, who want their salaries and are profiteering from my misery. There is no rational argument against my proposal.

  1. On the Dole permalink

    Let us know if you get anywhere with this. I’d like to put in for the same deal. A free apartment PLUS food stamps!! I could quit my job and retire decades earlier than I ever thought I’d be able to! Sweet!!

    • I don’t think they’d let you do this. You’re not allowed to quit your job to receive food stamps. Your job loss has to be involuntary. My situation is involuntary. The scenario that you are proposing is not.

  2. shiteforfree permalink

    WOW, a private apartment in NYC for FREE! I need this also, that way I can drop my mortgage payment and go live rent free, and free food , sign me up brother, Im tired of the 9-5 grind I need a break!

    • Again, that’s not how this works. If you sell property to qualify for public assistance, you can’t have it, and they do check up on these things. You are essentially trying ineptly to discredit my argument that it’s better for taxpayers to pay $1,200 a month for me to live comfortably than the nearly $4,000 per month for me to live in a hellhole that is currently spent. You have nothing valuable to say unless you can explain why the taxpayer should have to pay so much for me to have so little.

  3. speakyourmind permalink

    Explain to me WHY anyone owes you anything? You sound like a bottom feeder to me.

    • You sound like Jillian King being her typical bitch self to me.

      We live in a civilized society where there is no reason for anyone to be homeless other than other people’s greed. I am homeless ENTIRELY because of other people’s greed, because I am more than willing to work, and have been making a grand effort to get a job, as detailed in the aforementioned blog post.

      You are an inhuman beast who should be forced into slow torture, since you expect the same from me.

      Your response indicates that you think it’s worthwhile to punish someone for having a physical ailment to the tune of more than $2,500 additional taxpayer expense over putting him in a place of comfort. You are immoral and a thief.

  4. amy permalink

    The flaw in your logic is that you aren’t factoring in administrative costs.

    After all, you’re going to expect that this apartment has been checked for structural, electrical, and plumbing code compliance, right? And it will need a fire safety inspection. And you’ll probably want to have the air quality tested and additional equipment installed to remediate any problems with mold, radon, etc. And you’ll certainly expect the place to have been inspected for pests. The city will probably have to pay for an exterminator. And did I mention the required lead-based paint mitigation certifications that are required? Of course the city will have to run a background check on you to make sure they aren’t housing a child predator near a school. And all of this will have to be documented, documented, documented, and properly filed in the circumlocution office.

    So, you see, in order for the city of New York to provide you with a $1,000/month private apartment, the total cost to taxpayers would easily top $5,000/month. Eddie Harris Men’s Shelter is a bargain by comparison. Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but that’s how big government works!

    • It may be slightly more expensive to get started, but the starting cost to get an apartment is always more expensive, which is why I have $2,000 saved so that I can move out as soon as I have income beyond unemployment insurance once again. I would not object to using my funds in this manner.

    • Much of this has already been done. The City of New York already has a background check for me on file from when the Board of Education did one so that I could become a tutor. In January, NYPD produced a Certificate of Good Conduct for me for a $25 fee because my employer in Jacksonville required one. If NYC wants a background check from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, it costs only $5. As far as the building code stuff, that’s standard practice and probably should not have any sort of impact on the cost to the city to provide me with an apartment.

    • And another thing, when Unity of New York started its Sunday School program, we all had to fill out applications to be bonded with the city. I passed and taught Sunday School for several years. The only reason I’m not doing it now is because the director thought that between what seemed like a waning commitment and my financial struggles, I needed to take some time off from the program.

  5. speakyourmind permalink

    right because tax payers want to foot the bill for your PRIVATE apartment

    • Why would taxpayers want to spend more for me to live in an shelter with minimal privacy? This is pure vindictiveness no ethical person could have. A shelter is not a prison and shouldn’t be. If homelessness is a crime, the ex-employers who cause our homelessness must be considered accomplices and brought to justice. Unless they can demonstrate that we violated company policy (which they can do, supposing they have evidence, to prevent people form receiving unemployment insurance), they are part of the problem and should be punished in kind.

  6. Another person in the shelter system who wants to work and just needs a little extra help to make that happen.

    Making this a total of 0 people I’ve met who were homeless at any point who just want to freeload.

    We really need to make grassroots efforts to help each other instead of relying on uncaring governments that have to do everything on an aggregate, “socially acceptable” basis which only means the help is half-arsed and good people starve when we want to be working!

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