Homelessness – and why New Yorkers have the right to expect action

The topic of homelessness has garnered many headlines in recent weeks, including in this newspaper, which has been chronicling the concerns of neighbors of the 850-bed men’s shelter at Bellevue Hospital. Additionally, in a recent letter to the editor, a T&V reader remarked on her observation that homeless people have even been sleeping in and around Stuyvesant Town.

Therefore, we were relieved to hear Mayor Bill de Blasio and the first lady roll out a plan last Thursday to help the mentally ill in this city, including those who are homeless and have histories of violence or aggressive behavior, get easier access to services they need. Though it doesn’t focus on the homeless in particular, the plan is focused on getting different city agencies to start communicating in a meaningful way in order to determine the best course of action (treatment vs. jail, for instance) when dealing with particular individuals.

This initiative really can’t start soon enough.

In Kips Bay, where residents have for years complained of homeless men fighting, using pay phones as toilets, and masturbating in plain sight, tips get swapped by neighbors on Facebook on how to deal with the ongoing problem themselves. One resident recently advised others not to give money to the shelter residents, in the hope that they’ll panhandle elsewhere. It’s worth pointing out, though, that for those who do want to help the homeless, offering money isn’t the only way to do this.

Continue reading