Bloomberg kicks homeless to the streets

October 12, 2007

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Did I miss some sort of a fine print in Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus?” Let me get this straight. First, Giuliani wanted to rid the street of homeless.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani declared yesterday that the homeless had no right to sleep on the streets and his police commissioner added that they could be arrested if they refused shelter.

Now Bloomberg wants to reduce the amount of people who receive shelter,

Beginning tomorrow night, (New York) city will stop giving emergency shelter to families who are reapplying for a place to stay after being ruled ineligible, officials said yesterday.

You know, I can quote a bunch of “he saids” and”she saids” to show I disgusted I am. But I’ll throw your way nothing more than a paragraph that sums up the obvious disagreement over this new law being implemented tomorrow.

The toughening of the policy, which follows a rise during the summer in the number of families given emergency shelter in free public apartments, was criticized as cruel by advocates for the homeless and by some of the people it will affect. But it was defended by officials as a necessary tightening of a munificent policy that was being repeatedly abused by a few families.

I just want to bring your attention to something I noticed: Most homeless interviewed (and photographed) for this and the previous NYTimes article by reporter Leslie Kaufman on this issue are women with kids.

Grisel Rivera, 26, who says she has been using the emergency overnight system with her 6-year-old daughter, Jayda, since July, says the city has her case all wrong. The city says she can return to the one-bedroom apartment of a friend. She says the friend, who has a boyfriend and a child of her own, does not want her and has sent a notarized letter saying as much.

“Most of us can’t go to the last place we were,” she said. “If we could we’d be there already.” Asked what she would do tomorrow night, she said: “I’ll have nowhere to sleep. My daughter will have nowhere to sleep.”

Liset DeJesus says that she and her husband and two daughters, with the Bronx center their base, have been moving from shelter to shelter every night since June. She says that the girls, who are 10 and 15, have been out of school for a year.

Victor Pellot, who says he gets a military pension for an injured shoulder, says he and his son, 14, have been living this way for seven months.

Iatia Mabry, 19, says that she, her year-old daughter and her husband have been in the overnight cycle since the end of July. She had been living with a friend in Virginia, but when that woman’s boyfriend got out of prison and moved back in, living there became untenable.

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