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Queens Community Board 5 Is a Bigoted, Fascist Hellhole

October 8, 2019

Catherine O’Leary, CA-CB5Q
61-23 Myrtle Avenue
New York, New York 11385

Dear Ms. O’Leary:

I was absolutely appalled by the vile demonstrations of hate and the vicious, unchecked smears of entire demographics at the town hall tonight and the selective enforcement in which only those who were supportive of the homeless were being threatened with expulsion by the police. I was not able to stay and speak my prepared testimony because I live in a homeless shelter myself and have a 10 PM curfew, but as I was planning to self-identify as a current homeless shelter resident, I was beginning to fear for my safety, especially if I had seized the microphone out of turn as one particular shelter opponent did and wasn’t stopped. I present here the testimony I was planning to read, presented uncut, as I was making numerous edits in order to make it fit into the allotted two minutes as I awaited my turn. I wish everyone in the room could be made to hear it, but I’m certain that crowd control would have been so poor that I would not be heard, my facts denounced as lies without any evidence, and my character assassinated with defamatory accusations such as “criminal,” “addict,” and “sex offender.” I rarely see that level of unruliness in shelters, and never by that great a proportion of the residents. I hope it can at least be entered into the record and read by members of the community board.

Testimony Before Queens Community Board 5

October 7, 2019

My name is Scott Andrew Hutchins. I earned a master’s degree from The College of Staten Island in 2005. I have been a member of Picture the Homeless since October 8, 2012. Picture the Homeless members are all either homeless or formerly homeless. I myself have been homeless over seven years, although I have had eight short-term positions over that time, all at either a ludicrously low wage or that had brief hours. I have been rejected for Disability three times on the grounds that I can work a desk job, but these are the only sorts of desk jobs that I have been offered. I am here to tell you that the primary cause of homelessness is greedy rich people through their high rents and low wages. One in three homeless New Yorkers is employed, only one in five has a mental health or substance abuse issue (HUD, 2014 Continuum of Care Fact Sheet), the same as the general population, whereas 82% of wealthy people are addicted to drugs (The Economist). Nearly 102 million Americans are currently out of work, higher than in 2008 despite a deceptively low U-3 number that ignores the reality of low work force participation (Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog, April 25, 2019). Add to that that that the majority of new job creation since the recession supposedly ended are low wage (Naema Ahmed, Axios, Sep 7, 2018), 88% of minimum wage workers are over age 20 (Dan Essrow and David Cooper, Economic Policy Institute, August 28, 2013), that nearly all jobs created since 2005 are temporary (Dan Kopf, Quartz, December 5, 2016) and the rise of the unstable gig economy (The New School SCEPA, May 1, 2019), and it becomes obvious that the homeless crisis is the fault of the system, not the individuals.

This past Thursday, I was at a talk at The New School by Ibram X. Kendi. He distinguished racism from anti-racism. For Kendi, blaming groups, as many here have done, is racist, while blaming the system, as I have done, is anti-racist. Demonizing homeless people for the choices of the wealthy to pay low wages and to charge rents higher than the over 60,000 shelter homeless can afford is, by Kendi’s definition, racist regardless as to what percentage of that population consists of people of color. “It doesn’t fit in with the fabric of the neighborhood,” as Robert Holden stated, is a thinly-veiled racist comment. It’s a simple fact that Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan have higher concentrations of homeless shelters than Queens or Staten Island, which have very few. They need to start accepting their fair share and not be permitted to get neighborhood exemptions. While Picture the Homeless is generally against shelter construction, neighborhoods should not have the right to opt out of having homeless shelters while other neighborhoods are oversaturated. Does Holden even know what the demographics of homeless shelters are? Was he surprised with the statistics I just provided? I am far from the only homeless person with a college degree. The shelters have failed to adapt to the influx of homelessness thanks to our greedy, fauxgressive mayor who passes off $3,000 a month studios as “affordable housing” and claims that he has housed 120,000 homeless people, a number that is completely detached from reality. In my case, even Social Security recognizes that I need a desk job, the kind social services staff have no ability to get people based on outdated assumptions that the homeless are able-bodied and uneducated. Between 2009 and 2018, the shelter population increased 72%. It is absurd to think that this was all caused by personal rather than systemic problems. Homeless people work and travel beside you, and it is wrong to oppose homeless people living beside you. I was not able to find a statistic as to how many homeless people in New York City or nationwide have college degrees, but it’s a staggering 28% in Chicago (Jessica Goldstein, World Socialist Web Site, 5 July 2019), almost as high as the national average of 33%, and homelessness is rampant among current college students. When I was at NAICA Bronx Park Avenue, at least half of my dozen roommates had college degrees. I’ve even met people with supposedly lucrative degrees like accounting.

Most people are only a paycheck or injury away from homelessness, particularly with the demand for work that requires an education, such as law, being extremely down. I am not inferior to you just because I am homeless, simply a victim of an avaricious and unforgiving system. You already have homeless people in your neighborhood, because I’ve been there. A systemic failure is a societal failure. Until the system provides safe housing affordable at all income levels, no community that is lacking in homeless shelters should be allowed to reject one, only those that are oversaturated, such as in the Bronx. No neighborhood in Queens, except perhaps near the airport, is oversaturated with homeless shelters. As long as homeless shelters continue to be opened, there is no reasonable objection to opening one in Glendale.

After attending the hearing, I have to say that I’m now more afraid for homeless people sent into Glendale than I am for Glendale’s residents, and I am also aware how many of them would likely beam with pride that I said something like that.

Sincerely,

Scott Andrew Hutchins

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