I live in NYC. My part of the city is over 95% Democrat (to be fair, the vast majority of NYC is Democrat, but I’m trying to say that my immediate neighborhood votes left no matter who is on the right) My neighbors in my building want to defund the police, are anti profiling and spout all the philosophies of the liberal and progressive policies. They literally wear the T shirts and tote the bags and march in the protests. I’ve seen them.
You get the picture?
A few months ago, my Husband and I went to walk the dog. In the lobby of our building, my husband was accosted by several neighbors and was asked how they could let this happen. When they said THEY, the meaning was the board, as my husband is treasurer of our coop board (in NYC if you buy your apartment their are boards- will explain if need be) The thing they said was happening was that the city had taken over the boutique hotel literally across the street from our building and was turning it into a homeless shelter for women and young children. This was the first my husband or I had heard of this.
The crime they screamed
The noise they screamed
We’ll never be safe they screamed
How could the board let this happen
Why didn’t we fight this
For the record, no one had moved into the hotel/shelter yet: the way people found out was when furniture was seen being moved out of the building.
No one had moved into the hotel/shelter yet.
Does this make my neighbors:
- Loud mouths
- Anti homeless
- Crappy human beings
- Afraid that their property values would go down
- All of the above
My first question of the day is:
If a homeless shelter were to be put directly across the street from your dwelling, what would be your immediate reaction? (you don’t have to tell me- but be honest with yourself)
Our coop board issued a statement that they would not fight the homeless shelter. This was not a unanimous decision by the board- I think it ended up being 4-3 (one board member stated on the record that he was sorry he ever moved into this building, but that’s a whole other story)
So the board was not going to ask the city to move the shelter. FYI- there are at least a dozen neighbors who won’t speak to us anymore because my Husband would not try to officially move the shelter. He was one of the votes to not fight the shelter being located across the street.
About a week later, people moved in to the shelter.
It’s been a few months, so I will give you a recap of the situation:
There are probably twenty five – thirty adult women, and each has a child under four.
The shelter has a curfew. The first few weeks people were not listening to the curfew and it was very LOUD outside of our building. Neighbors in our building and the buildings near us did get the shelter to make the residents stick to the curfew, so after a week of noise, the residents must be inside by the appointed hour, which I believe is ten pm.
So you see the first issue that we encounter. People from the shelter are on the streets. A lot. They are not allowed to loiter in front of the shelter, so they come across the street and loiter in front of our buidling. Sometimes there are so many people, my neighbors who have strollers, walkers, and canes have trouble using the ramp to enter our building. There are people there all day.
Men are not allowed in the shelter, so the boyfriends/partners of the women often come to sit with the woman and children. Fine. They use the planters in front of our building as a garbage pail. One time, someone dumped a whole bag of trash there. My doorman asked him to clean it up. The man, a friend of one of the shelter residents, dropped his pants, mooned my doorman, turned around and peed into the planter. This was on a Sunday afternoon.
We have two groups of people from the shelter. One sits on the left side of the building by the planters, the other group sits to the right on the other side of our building garage. They are two different racial groups. On Sunday afternoons we often get treated to them yelling racial slurs at one another. We also often get Jerry Springer style fights. Remember- this is all happening during the day in the presence of young children.
Let’s get to the children part.
This is the scene to the side of my building from about 8am till 10pm. The residents face the strollers towards the wall of the apartment building. They sit on the curb and drink and smoke and do drugs, while the children are in the stroller looking at the wall. When I say drugs, I don’t necessarily mean it’s just pot– I mean all kinds of drugs. We see them during the day. With the kids in the strollers. My Doormen, who have a front row view to all this, wonder how they get the kids to stay in the strollers all day without crying.
Just to give you the landscape of my area:
- One block east is a park/playground
- Five blocks south is a playground
- Three blocks west is a playground/park
- Five blocks north is a playground /park
- Across the street is a plaza for the college
- Around the block (300 steps) is a library with a whole floor for children
- Seven blocks north there is a library with a whole floor for children
- Three blocks east is a community rec center with indoor and outdoor pool and classes that the residents would be able to access
The residents get three meals a day.
We see uneaten and unopened meals strewn all over the place. I can’t really complain about these because at least they tried to put them in the garbage. Mainly they remain on the street. You know what food waste on the street brings? If you said bugs and rodents you win a prize.
The shelter has 24 hour security and social workers on the daily.
How about crime?
Well, I admit when I see two men who are high or drunk having a fight, I don’t feel too safe. When I walk the dog, a lot of people make sudden movements to scare her intentionally. My neighbors with small dogs have taken to carrying their dogs till they are away from the building.
911 is called to the shelter at least twice a day. These aren’t calls from the neighbors- these are calls from social workers and security because of escalating fights in the shelter itself. There have been a fair number of calls for the children for accidents and other medical issues.
Every weekend my actual neighbors from my building or surrounding buildings call the police for fights outside, or people passed out on the street, or severe intoxication. I’ve gotten used to walking down the street and seeing flashing lights as I approach my block. it’s just another day.
Am I judging the situation?
Am I right to judge the situation?
But we really need to ask:
Is any of this an actual problem? Are people entitled to live anyway they want, without judgement from anyone else?
Is there an actual problem with people throwing away complete meals?
Is there a problem with people leaving their kids in strollers all day facing a wall?
Is there a problem with hanging out on the street all day doing drugs and drinking and smoking?
Am I judging what is happening because I’m :
- Middle Class
- College educated
- A Mother
Do people have to make the same choices that I have and do things the way I did/do?
No they don’t.
Who is to say that the way I do things is the right way, or the only way?
So, this is what’s happening in my neck of the woods. Feel free to jump in and talk about whatever you think/feel about what I wrote. Think about what I wrote and be honest with yourself about what you think and feel.