What do these pictures say about our city and a society that allow human beings, mostly homeless, some mentally ill, many both, to have to live like this? Politicians like Cuomo, DeBlasio, City Council members and state legislators, pat themselves on the backs for achieving their agendas that include releasing people from prisons, jails, psychiatric centers, etc. Not having people “confined” seems to be their answer for all troubled and ill individuals. And then the buck stops. They implement no services, no follow up, no help thereafter for these individuals. As long as the statistics show the jail population numbers down and psychiatric centers near empty, that is what seems to count. Having worked as an attorney for 17 years in psychiatric facilities, what the mentally ill and homeless need, just like everyone else, is a purpose in life. The politicians confuse a purpose in life with having freedom. Giving someone freedom, who does not have a purpose in life, does more harm than good. You see the results in the news every day. Freedom to commit crimes, freedom to do drugs, freedom to wander around like zombies is not fulfilling for anyone and causes rage and anger in the ordinary members of society who are affected by them. You see this clearly in our subway stations. Helping to create a purpose in life for the homeless and mentally ill individuals takes work and resources. Tulip Winery in Israel is an excellent example of how a local business employs about 200 adults struggle with developmental and emotional disabilities. It is a model of success. When communities care about its less fortunate great strides can be made to integrate them into society. Where are the mental health workers from the Boondoogle Thrive, helping to lift these individuals from the concrete where they rest their bodies? And I ask where are the woke celebrities, who could invest in businesses to create job opportunities for the homeless and mentally ill of this city? In my experience, I have personally witnessed only Stop & Shop Grocery Store and Duane Reade employing the disabled. Maybe there are others, but certainly not enough in this City. I implore the politicians of this state and city to help these individuals beyond opening a door for them to live on the streets. Invest in decent homes for them, even if it means re-opening some units in closed psychiatric centers. Reimagine how that would happen. DeBlasio’s idea of spending money on hotels is as ludicrous an idea as I have ever heard. Why not invest it in a permanent living space? Placing homeless people in situations where they need to be uprooted all the time is devasting. Homeless shelters need to be reimagined too. There is so much crime within them most homeless do not want to stay there. That is a problem, which no one wants to address. The granting of freedom is as far as the politicians and leaders of this City want to go.
One reply on “What to do about the homeless? Freedom alone is not the answer.”
I agree with the author. I am a former NYC Caseworker and Shelter employee. The Shelters are unsafe due to crime and drug usage. Allowing homeless people who are suffering with mental illness to decompensate on the streets or the subway is not helping them or society.