All About Homelessness and What We Can Do to Help
By Kristian Chong and Henry Shiba
Did you know that approximately 60,000 to 80,000 people are homeless in NYC? That is one in every 106 people who are homeless, which is crazy because NYC is home to 8.3 million people! Homelessness is when you can’t afford a house but some people may not know what causes homelessness. Some things that cause homelessness are poverty, unemployment, mental disorders, and a whole lot more reasons. Some people that are involved with this problem are the homeless people themselves, everyday people like you and me, homeless shelter owners, the government, and policymakers.
In the city of New York, COVID-19 has made this issue of homelessness more noticeable because, since the COVID hit, the only people you saw outside were homeless making this problem easier to see. According to Gothamist, Mayor Eric Adams wanted homeless people to live in shelters instead of outside on the streets, and when the people rejected the offer, he sent the sanitation workers to take what they had, which is bad considering that homeless people do not own that much. And in the end, only 5 out of 239 encampment sites accepted to live in homeless shelters, meaning it was not a success.
Homeless shelters aid people in need, but by how much? Homeless shelters can be a good short-term solution for people who need help. For example, Brian Ourien of the Bowery Mission says that they give people 3 meals a day and they accept everyone that comes to their big red doors. The Bowery Mission also has a program for homeless kids, located in the Bronx, and they prepare people for leaving the shelter. Homeless shelters can also be a bad short-term solution because of the lack of funding, and not everyone wants to or can be in a shelter.
“I don’t want another dollar to be spent on a homeless shelter. I want to see more housing being built.” This is what Shahana Hanif said. Shahana Hanif is a City Councilwoman for District 39. She angrily said that the sanitation trucks are confiscating all of the homeless people’s belongings as a punishment for not staying in the homeless shelters. She says that because of this, there should be more affordable housing for the homeless because some reasons why homeless people don’t like living in shelters is because they like their space. But if they get affordable housing, then they won’t have to worry about this, and we’d have no homeless people on the streets.
Affordable housing is probably a better option long term because it is a real home, and real homes are better to live in than shelters. The problem is that affordable housing takes time to be built, and right now, most of the options for homeless people are homeless shelters, not affordable housing. Maybe shelters would be a better short-term solution if they transitioned from congregate shelters (which means that you share a room with others) to private shelters because privacy is benefiting homeless people in a really great way.
Affordable housing is a way to solve the homelessness problem. Many people are becoming homeless because they can not afford to pay bills for their homes. While homeless shelters are effective in helping the homeless, they are only a short-term solution and you would need the support of the government. Fixing this big problem would require not only creating opportunities but also building trust.
Now that you know all of these possible solutions to homelessness, maybe you can help! These are some ways you can help the homeless, according to ny.curbed.com: you can donate money, donate goods, volunteer, call 311 instead of 911, because 911 is for emergencies, and get to know the homeless people which will help people.
These are only some ways that ordinary people can help homeless people, and you can use these, too! Another big way to help the homeless population is to build trust with them. When you see them on the street, don’t just ignore them, maybe donate, or at least pay attention to them. Make it so that they feel like part of the community. If you help fight this big problem, you might make it not as much of a problem.
The Bowery Mission
About the authors:
Kristian Chong is a person who wrote really cool articles like “All about Homelessness and what we can do to help.”
Henry Shiba is a guy named Henry Shiba. If you look him up you get a lot of pictures of dogs. He also likes hockey.