mike, i place at your door the heartache of homelessness.



homelessness is a symptom

i came to nyc to look into mike bloomberg (the mayor, with a net worth of 25B representing the 1%) and homelessness. homelessness is a symptom rather than a cause, and in looking at the causes of homelessness in nyc, i am, over and over again, confronted with a racial divide. so now, i wonder, what is the relation between the 1% and racism? and is this really the crux of it? the economics of white supremacy?

if incarceration,* homelessness, and poverty (and with poverty comes lack of health care and lack of mental health care, which leads us right back to homelessness and incarceration) are all intertwined – and if incarceration, homelessness and poverty are all dramatically higher for the “non-white” population, what conclusion other than white supremacy can be made?

and how do you tackle those who uphold white supremacy while calling themselves “philanthropists?”

*if arrest leads to a criminal record

(for example – having marihuana in public view, – P.L. ยง 221.10 – Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the 5th Degree A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses: marihuana in a public place, as defined in section 240.00 of this chapter, and such marihuana is burning or open to public view; or one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than twenty-five grams.)

– and if a criminal record leads to loss of job and access to government programs such as housing and food stamps (amongst other consequences) you become much more vulnerable to finding yourself homeless. likewise, once homeless you can be ticketed for blocking pedestrian traffic, for sleeping on a park bench, for defecating in public (why does nyc have no public washrooms?,) for being intoxicated in public, even… for spitting.

– and if you are held in prison because you are a “flight risk, i.e. you are homeless and have no address or you are poor and can’t make bail, and your case is heard but you have already “done the time” your conviction would have entailed, rather than plead innocent and have a future trial date set keeping you in prison longer, a lot of people are “encouraged” to plead guilty, even when they are not.

– we have what is called the criminalization of poverty.

African-American and Latino New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Approximately 53 percent of New York City homeless shelter residents are African-American, 32 percent are Latino, 7 percent are white, 1 percent are Asian-American, 1 percent are Native American or other race/ethnicity, and 6 percent are of unknown race/ethnicity.

coalition for the homeless : new york city homelessness – the basic facts – updated december 2012

For more information, please visit www.coalitionforthehomeless.org.