As many of you know, the hotel across the street from my apartment was turned into a temporary homeless shelter. A few months ago I told you what was happening, and figured it was time for an update. https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2022/09/23/anything-can-happen-friday-the-homeless-shelter-across-the-street/

There are a lot of rumors about what is/was going on at the temporary shelter. I will not go into any of the rumors. But I will tell you things that I know for a fact:

  1. The people who were spending upwards of ten hours a day sitting in front of my building and adjacent buildings are no longer sitting there
  2. A man from a neighboring building was walking his dog one afternoon at about 4 o’clock. As he was passing by the people camped outside, he was assaulted.
  3. Two arrests were made in the assault- one was a resident of the shelter, one was a friend of one of the residents
  4. Twelve people from the shelter and their friends were present at the assault (excluding the six children under the age of five who were in their strollers) but none of them saw an assault.
  5. The assault was caught by six different security cameras that are around the building, including two on my building
  6. The assault was also witnessed by three other people who were walking down the block at the time and recorded as they were calling the police

Next we come to my neighbors who live in my building. For this specific account, we will focus on the fourteen parents of children under the age of 18.

A bit of info about the parents:

  1. some of them identify as LGBTQ+
  2. Some of them are persons of color
  3. some are married while some live with partners and some are single parents
  4. some belong to organized religion such as Hindu and Judaism, and some do not belong to organized religion
  5. all are progressive/democrats , none of whom have ever said anything positive about Trump and clearly vote the democratic line
  6. all are middle or upper middle class

So you get the gist of the group:

These parents met in the lobby of our building to figure out what to “do” about the situation. especially in light of the assault at a time in the day when many of the older kids are walking home alone, or parents/caregivers would be walking down the street. These are some of the things that I heard:

  1. I told my kids to avoid that side of the street and to cross if they see the shelter people
  2. I told my children that they have to be careful of the shelter residents because they might hurt you
  3. I’m taking my kids out of public school
  4. I’m moving to the suburbs

This is how prejudice starts.

A bunch of parents want to keep their children safe. They tell their kids to avoid situations which could be unsafe. They tell them who to be wary of. Those children will grow up with a bias against people who live in shelters because their parents told them they were unsafe, so unsafe in fact, that it is worth changing schools or moving out of the city.

This is how prejudice starts.

As of now, three families have put their homes up for sale.

I know of at least one family that has started the private school application process.

This is just one small example of how things start out.

I ask you, how would you act if an assault took place outside of the building next door to where you make your home?

What would you do? What would you say to your kids?

What do you tell your kids in order for them to be safe?

And really think about what you really would do in this situation…don’t lie to yourself…

Think about how you would react in this real life, 2022 scenario.

103 thoughts on “Update on the Shelter

  1. so many variables…but I do remember when there was a mayor not too many years ago, who, (love him or hate him), was tough on crime, and things were a whole lot different practically speaking. You knew if you were caught w/ a gun, there was a 100% chance you were going to spend a year in jail, minimum. (as I recall). Deterrent. It does not address most of the questions you asked, but if there is no fear of consequences, then anarchy will be one of the fruits. JMHO. Thanks for the update LA! DM

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I tend to think I might be quicker to jump to extreme solutions if I lived where you do. I own up to a greater level of bias associated with a city living environment versus my quiet little town. Our level of crime and violence is presumed to be almost nil compared to NYC. In general, I try not to grow fear or bias in my kids or grands so I try to be cautious in talking about concerns- not labeling or demonizing specific groups, but fostering awareness more than anything. Again though- it is difficult to know how far to go in reacting when you do have fear for family safety no matter who might be responsible for the actions.

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    1. That’s exactly it. When faced with real life situations, where safety is a concern, what do you say/do and how do children interpret what you say?

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  3. Hmm, what a sad/unsettling situation for all concerned. I’m not sure that legitimately being concerned for your kids’ safety is about prejudice. Surely it’s about the fact that there was an assault and concern that it will happen again.

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      1. Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics. To me, if there is clear evidence that there have been violent altercations at a place, I would advise people I know, especially my kids, to avoid it. That doesn’t mean every homeless shelter, it just means any place – including poorly lit parks at night – that has shown potential to be dangerous. From my perspective, that’s not prejudice against all homeless shelters.

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      2. Think,of it like this…a kid does what you do, not what you say. If you cross the street to avoid something, what’s the interpretation the kid takes?

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      3. Yes, the perceptions we pass on have to start at the ground level- meaning in the family. Teaching kids to be tolerant, fair, open, unbiased, inquisitive, accepting… there are a million more… but this is a societal issue that grows exponentially daily. Some parents have an awareness of what they foster in their kids- many others do not either by choice, out of ignorance and environment, and/or by lived experience. Socially there is no one perfect way to solve these issues and why sociologists will never run out of research material 😉

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  4. I’m sorry you had an assault so close to your home. I’m remembering living downtown Palm Springs and crime was increasing and I had a homeless guy living in our yard. We moved, but that was not the reason. My daughter lived in Oakland with the largest encampment outside her front door. Now my kids are in Berkeley and see things that would freak me out on a daily basis. It doesn’t phase them and they know how to stay safe. I don’t know how I’d act in your situation with younger kids.

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      1. I can imagine! Raising my kids in Palm Springs was nerve wracking after a boy 20 minutes away was kidnapped out of his front yard and his body found a week later. It changed everything as a mom of two young children. For my fellow mom friends too.

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  5. There is nothing prejudicial about teaching our kids to be safe. They have to learn how to deal with all kinds of people and situations. That is a parent’s responsibility. But, they also have to learn who and what to avoid. Teaching a child to avoid or to be wary of some people is not a matter of prejudice, just as teaching them to look both ways before crossing is not.

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      1. It could be. But then, it could just be a lesson in sense, something kids have to learn. Don’t we also teach them not to talk to strangers? That could lead to prejudice if all strangers are of the same race. More likely though, by knowing who to avoid, our kids stay relatively safe and can grow and learn for themselves.

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  6. I would tell my kids that there was an assault in the area so be aware of your surroundings and what is happening around them. I would like to think I wouldn’t model prejudice toward people in shelters in general, but I can’t claim 100% that I wouldn’t

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  7. Honestly, I’m confused about why that’s wrong to teach children to avoid dangerous situations and peoples. It reminds me of a story I heard recently of a woman who went traveling: she was open-minded about treating everyone fairly and having no biases …and got robbed and murdered.

    The problem I see is one with liberal-minded people here: willing to talk the talk and vote the vote BUT never willing to walk that front walk in front of a homeless shelter. What they really need to do is get their hands dirty literally helping, and having their children help as well (within monitored situations). At home, they explain about situations good people very in (mental health, military PTSD, the trap of felony convictions, etc.) and how to be safe and to love and help people.

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    1. It’s not wrong to teach children how to protect themselves…that’s our job as parents. The problem is what you elude to…if you never explain how to protect yourself, bad things happen. It goes to my theory in progress…prejudice doesn’t start from hate…it starts from fear/safety. It evolves into hate. But every single person can be prejudice…political affiliation doesn’t make you immune

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    1. Yes, but then we say does anyone who doesn’t live in a city have the right to talk about what happens? I hear people talk all the time about what cities should do without a clue about the day to day. Also I hear a lot of rich people who don’t take subways talk about how there isn’t crime in the subway. Lots of layers

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  8. This is a very tough topic – thanks. No one wants their children to grow up as bigots nor do I want them growing up to be victims. In todays society, I avoid all males between the ages of 16-30, just watch the news. I am an equal opportunity avoider. So tell me, what would you do if your daughter was assulted by someone from that shelter and not one of the shelter inhabitants saw a thing, even though they were standing there?

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      1. We raised our children to jusge others by their actions. In your example, the actions of many of the residents indicates that they cannot be trusted. By their actions, your well being is not their concern. If it was my family, I’d also be in jail.

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  9. You can find weirdos with weird obsessions hiding in the best neighborhoods. If you do the crime, you need to do the time. Defund the police is not an option, even if it is the Democrat’s option. Teach your child to be aware and to trust their instincts.

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  10. I would hope the person who did the assaulting was arrested and removed from the facility? I would also probably meet my kid at the end of the block and walk them home if possible. This is a tough one. Mental health is a problem in most homeless communities and one that is not properly addressed. This leaves people who need the most help with few options other than self medication which only leads to more issues. Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The alleged assaulted was arrested. It’s assumed that all the people on the sidewalk that day have been evicted, but that’s rumor. I have not seen any of them since the incident. There are now at least two security guards there most of the day including a security guard in the overnight. It’s tough

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  11. I honestly don’t know what I would do, but you’re right. This is how prejudice starts. That’s exactly what some white people did when they moved to the suburbs fleeing Black homeowners (even though no one was hurt). It was literally called white flight.

    I’m not sure. This is a tricky one.

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    1. Exactly. You tell your kids you’re moving because you don’t like the new neighbors. Then you wonder why kids become prejudice…what amazes me is when people don’t realize this is how it starts

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      1. The more I think about it, the more I’m thinking it’s just a fight/flight/freeze response. It’s not even a thought, just there’s “danger,” which there is, and so what is there to do…let’s flee.

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      2. I wasn’t gonna comment again, but I have to say, you’re right. I’m thinking of everyone’s response after school shootings.

        Now that we’ve discussed this, I’m wondering if parents wouldn’t be better off just teaching children how to be safe in the neighborhood.

        I’m also thinking this because, for example, my parents didn’t have the privilege to up and leave our ghetto neighborhood. Instead, I had to learn specific protocols for living in the city.

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      3. You misunderstand. I’m afraid because there is no such thing as safe. I know women who have been assaulted in suburban parking lots and people assaulted on rural roads cause they stopped to help someone stranded. My parents were robbed twice In The burbs, never when they lived in a city. Drunk drivers, etc. I don’t live in fear. I don’t feel safe because safe doesn’t exist

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      4. Ah, it was in reference to another comment where you did say you are afraid every day, but i hear LA there truly is no such thing as safe. Anyone who doesnt thonk crime happens anywhere is foolish.

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  12. Knee jerk and NIMBY, and a quickly shared notion of getting the hell out of Dodge, with little understanding the whole of the nation is now the Wild West.

    This sums as true…from you…”I’m afraid every day, because shit happens every day…but I’m honest about it.” And that’s the key.

    Nice post. And excellent observation concerning nascent prejudice. Oops… gots to go and dodge some gunplay here in Chi-Town.

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  13. I appreciate your update but it is very disturbing. As you said, taking care of your kid has to be your number one priority. Since the activities outside the shelter have been an ongoing concern, I personally would probably investigate moving. I don’t think that makes me prejudiced; it says I am smart. I don’t think telling my kids to walk on the other side of the street or even my walking down to meet them negates the possibility of assault. You understand the dangers as an adult and are streetwise, but you said even you have fears. I think it is great that you continue to go out now that the great lockdown is over. You are brave and are not allowing those people to intimidate you into remaining locked in your home. The most disturbing thing for me is that “no one” saw the assault that was caught on multiple cameras except for some people from your building. What a sad commentary on the residents.

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    1. Being aware of danger doesn’t make you prejudice. But moving because you don’t like a group of people shows your children that it’s ok to think a group is unacceptable even though you don’t know them personally. You’ve labeled a group so bad that you need to get away from them because they’re not safe. How does a child interpret this? My work in progress hypothesis is that prejudice doesn’t start of hate but fear/safety

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      1. I think your hypothesis is at least partially correct. I know that it can also be taught. I’ve seen that, but I don’t know that any of the options discussed here would necessarily result in prejudice; it depends on how the issue is handled in discussions.

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  14. Being that I hate where we live to begin with, it would definitely push me to not sign a new lease. As for who was assaulting, the person makes no difference to me…crime can happen anywhere by anyone, can’t really point fingers at a specific person. But if i felt unsafe, I would try to relolcate for piece of mind.

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  15. I am not sure what I would do. Moving for safety would probably be my first thought. This entire scenario is very hard to think about as I have never been in this type of situation. I just do not have personal knowledge of this. I do understand how prejudices start though. For example, I remember anytime my dad would negatively comment on hitchhikers and long haired hippies. He was sure they were the problem with society, brought to American by the Beetles and definitely responsible for all that was wrong with society. I was scared of hippies, hitchhikes and the Beetles and thought they were ‘bad people’ until I was about 12! So I do believe your statement “this is where prejudices start” is correct. I also believe prejudices are created out of fear. Good luck to you and your neighbors.

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  16. Honestly, I’d move. And tell my kids some of the people around aren’t nice so that’s why. But on a broader level there’s a reason why those people behave as they do and that needs to be addressed by the whole community. People with no resources and no stake in society will make their own rules, seeing as they’re excluded anyway. The more they act up the more excluded they get. So the solution lies in inclusion, but it isn’t simple and it isn’t up to just you and your neighbours.

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  17. Is there someone who can organize help to get these people jobs so they have more to do than sitting around in front of their building? Can someone train them for new jobs, or help them get an education or counsel them? it is a difficult situation I am sure. How sad for all concerned.

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  18. To not feel safe where you live is hard enough, let alone worrying about your children. This is such a tough situation. I understand the parents fears, but there’s a way to express it without demeaning a group of people. Interestingly, my parents growing up were very prejudiced. Yet we lived in a mostly Spanish neighborhood, and I was bussed to schools on the north side of Milwaukee, which is predominately black. Even as a kid, it never made sense to me, their dislike for other races. I couldn’t reconcile living in our neighborhood and going to school in another area with the idea that these people were “bad.” Their beliefs actually pushed me in the opposite direction. I embraced people regardless of color. The day I met my ex-husband, who is Spanish, they almost lost their minds. But with time, getting to know him, that changed. They had all these assumptions about other races, that were likely fed into them as a children. We have to be so careful on how we label a group of people.

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  19. The thing I like best about your honesty is that you are stating a truth that is often overlooked: prejudice doesn’t stem from hate, it stems from fear. We’re constantly being told it comes from hate, but that simply isn’t true. We fear certain groups, and so we avoid them and want to keep them out of our lives. Then the hate grows from the prejudice, when the people we’re prejudiced against don’t cooperate by conveniently going away…..

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      1. To my point…it brings meaning and power to you, but does not bring those feelings out in me. As I don’t really know the context of this other than the generic, I can’t comment further. You believe it, and have a right to believe it. I don’t, which is my right. We agree to disagree.

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  20. I have to be honest LA, if I had small kids I would be gone! I would let my kids know that we can’t change the behavior of adults but we have a abetter chance of helping a child not turn to criminal behavior.

    It also depends on your child. My oldest daughter would not work well if she thinks she will be assaulted my youngest would say try me if you want to. And my son at a young age may have been influenced in a BAD WAY!

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  21. It seems to me that the extremists in the group are taking a viable concern (safety) and conflating it with another (“shelter people”), and you’re right: it’s a slippery slope toward racism from there. I think I would take the same approach as Theycallmetater…right down to the disclaimer.

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    1. Exactly. I think people have a bad habit of thinking along the lines of, I donate money to a charity so clearly Im not a ————-…they don’t really think it through

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  22. and you can’t just leave for the middle of nowhere, even if that is what you can afford….think big. I do agree. Like in Florida, we are so diverse, mostly and we all try to listen to one another, mostly. It is better than living in Arkansas or some Western or middle america.

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  23. Like others have said there is no easy answer. But it is so easy to form prejudices without really thinking about it.
    Telling your children that homeless people are bad is turning your child against any homeless person they see. You may not intend to do that but thats what you are doing. We can’t say “oh well I didn’t mean it that way!” We don’t realize how much a child’s mind takes in and how literally tbey tske things. We have to guard our words! Quickly shipping them off to a private school solves what??
    There are problems everywhere!!
    We have to learn how to deal with situations without always running from them. May there be cases where moving is appropriate, or changing schools, yes there may. But it should be carefully thought out, not a gut reaction to your fears.

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  24. I understand that decisions are skewed when you have young children. Personally, I’ve lived in war zones, through civil unrest, riots, lock-ins, all sorts – all as a child. The most disturbing part of it all was that my parents treated it as normal. So, there’s that.

    Put against that, as an adult, I’ve lived in many areas of London – some downright posh, some downright dubious. Equally, the place I’ve felt most home in the past 20 years was next door to where a body was found in the bin by the refuse collectors. I did not move, nor felt in any way inclined to do so. Indeed, I was very sad to leave when it came time to leave the area.

    But yeah, it’s a difficult question and until walking in those shoes, I believe it’s impossible to know how you will react.

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    1. I agree. You don’t know till you are face in it…however….some people do think they aren’t prejudice or judgmental, when really, aren’t we all to a certain degree?

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      1. I would never pretend not to be judgmental 😀 It’s hard work keeping it out of my professional practice, so it’s bound to slip in personally.

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  25. I think telling your kids about “stranger danger” is normal, but pinpointing a specific group leads to profiling. I understand wanting to move to a “safer area” but that knee jerk reaction was in the back of their minds anyway(probably). Fear leads to prejudice, yes, but some fear is totally unfounded it is just afraid of those who are different. As a parent I knew it was my job to keep my children safe. I am sorry that your neighborhood is having this issue. It never ends well when people have no place to call their own.

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  26. I wouldn’t get in a rush to move, but if the danger kept going or got worse, I’d consider it. This is because after a while it will be obvious that the government and law enforcement are not doing their job to keep the public safe, and in NY I think it’s hard to get a gun, and kids can’t have guns, so what else can you do?

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