imagesI have history with NYC because we have lived here for so long.  We lived here through Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg and now DeBlasio.  This city, the epicenter of democracy and capitalism is ever changing and evolving.

When we came to NYC there were areas of Brooklyn I would not feel comfortable walking through during the day and areas in Manhattan that I would not feel comfortable during the night.

This town is a melting pot of religions, pay checks, languages, jobs, ideas and housing.

Each mayor sets different priorities.  In the last year we have seen the homeless situation in this city return to a level that I have not seen in almost 15 years.  The streets are not as clean either but it is the homeless situation that is to upsetting.  They are sleeping on the streets, in doorways, and the majority of them are mentality unstable.

There was a guy ranting and raving in front of our dentist office making it difficult to get in and not to mention scary.  There is a guy who lives at the end of our street creating his own personal plastic shop.  There is the guy who sleeps on the sidewalk outside the park.  I could go on and on but it is unacceptable that this mayor appears to have chosen to do nothing about this issue.  Just noting the streets are filthy too.

We are living in a time where people feel on edge as it is and having unstable people living on our streets just amplifies the feeling of not being safe.   It is not ok.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lisa Abeyta

    While we are a much smaller city than yours, I think some of the programs our mayor has put in place definitely have potential to have positive results in other cities like NYC. The most visible, as far as news coverage, has been the program There’s a Better Way (http://www.citylab.com/city… which pays homeless day labor rates to work cleaning up their community. But his initiative that is now an independent nonprofit has proven that, at least here, housing the homeless is almost 40% more cost-effective for the city than managing homelessness on the streets – Heading Home (http://www/abqheadinghome.org), which brings together multiple agencies to help the homeless find housing.

    1. lisa hickey

      I think both these ideas have potential, thanks for sharing them Lisa.

      1. Lisa Abeyta

        I haven’t been involved in either program but have seen the difference it has made in our downtown. So, at least in our city, it has shown encouraging results.

        1. pointsnfigures

          There is dignity in work. Paying people to clean up is a good idea

  2. lisa hickey

    Here’s something to consider. The feeling of “not being safe” must be magnified tenfold for people who ARE actually homeless.One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is that our society could benefit from not separating out “physical illnesses” from “mental illnesses”. An illness is an illness is an illness. Both negatively impact the lives of the person themselves and others around them. Both need to be treated. Making them different is part of what prevents people from getting the help they need.Part of the reason there are more men than woman living on the streets is that men a) don’t get the help they need for mental illnesses soon enough b) they are encouraged to “tough it out” — and I think that mentality probably extends to the day they become homeless “oh, I’ll just live on the streets a few days til I get back on my feet again. It will be fine.” And that day never comes. An illness that could affect hundreds or thousands of others (like some mental illnesses do) should be taken seriously and treated as an illness. But it is simply not.

    1. Matt Kruza

      Lisa I love the sentiment, and certainly think demonizing mental illness is wrong and counter-productive. The issue I guess I would raise is that the impact of mental illness on others is not the same as physical illness. If you have diabetes, your interaction with me is nearly indistinguishable. If you (or I, just an example obviously etc) were to have untreated severe bi-polar or schizorenia or multiple personalities or period of psyhcosis our interactions would be greatly affected. Now, realize I said UNTREATED mental illness. There is no doubt we need to help get treatment without demonization or undue stigmitization. I guess the point is that while we need to not “condemn” or make moral judgements on those with mental illness, we need to acknowedge that it is inherently different unfortunately. Only after we recognize this unfortunate, yet true reality can we reach what I think we both want: mutual respect, non-judgement, and effective, safe, affordable treatment so everyone and society at large has better outcomes. Fundamentally our brain is what makes us human (and main reason we can do things no other creature alive can), so I just think acknowleding this helps inform the best solutions to this vexxing problem. Genuinely curious for your thoughts!

      1. lisa hickey

        Thanks for your reply Matt. It’s funny—-as I was writing my original reply I was debating whether to include the fact that mental illness often impacts others more than physical illness. But I decided not to for two reasons: 1) I was afraid it would complicate my original point and 2) as I was thinking about it, there are many physical illnesses that have a *huge* impact on other people. Ask anyone who has had a loved one go through ongoing cancer treatments. Or—someone who is dealing with a parent who has Alzheimer’s (which I am). Alzheimer’s is actually a great example to consider—-is is a physical illness or a mental illness? Why does it matter?So in response to your comment—yes, I agree. But if the impact for mental illness on others is *greater* (as I think you are implying) — then wouldn’t it make more sense to get more help for those people and not less? And I think there are 3 places this does make a difference 1) Stigma in getting help, as you pointed out. Most people feel there is little or no stigma against getting help for cancer, or, say diabetes—but they do feel stigma about getting help for mental illnesses 2) How it is paid for — right now, how your insurance reimburses you for mental vs. physical illness is different—-although I am glad to say it is getting much better 3) How other problems that are created by mental illnesses—-like homelessness—are solved.I also agree that mental illness is certainly NOT the cause of all homelessness. But I do think people who live on the streets for any length of time should at the very least be assumed in need of help, and both physical and mental health at that. To those who say “drugs” are a cause of homelessness, I certainly agree—-but I would like to see that be treated as an illness as well (which, again, we are moving towards.)

        1. Matt Kruza

          Thanks for the detailed reply. I agree with pretty much all you posted. I think all three points we are in agreement on in terms of what we need to do. I think the key to get all three of those points implemented is to have people fully understand the issue and I think often in general people stop to understand or act on things when they view one of the premises to be false. Since mental illness is often different than physical, (and / or many people perceive this) this often invalidates having all three steps which you articulated implemented in the general public policy sphere. So I think we share the exact same goals, just wanted to articulate one of the key barriers to overcome that I feel is often not brought up enough because of fear creating stigma. Thanks for the good discussion!

  3. Tim Loonen

    I’m about to move from London, UK to Cambridge, MA and am shocked (to say the least) that an area where so many smart minds gather to teach or study at Harvard or MIT has not yet found a solution for this.

  4. Erin

    What are deBlasio’s priorities?

    1. Gotham Gal

      that is a very good question.

      1. Erin

        Oh ok. Lol.

        1. pointsnfigures

          DeBlasio. His biggest priority is himself. chicago mayor is similar

          1. Erin

            Speaking of New York mayors, is anyone watching “The Get Down” on Netflix? It’s about New York and the development of hip hop in the 70’s. Koch is referenced in it several times.

      2. rich caccappolo

        The administration has been very clear – affordable housing is the top priority. More units throughout all 5 boroughs

        1. Gotham Gal

          They have not done a very good job getting there.

          1. rich caccappolo

            not sure what data you are referencing when you make that statement – guess it depends on your expectations. The administration believes they are at a record-setting pace and are ahead of targets outlined in the Housing New York plan.http://www1.nyc.gov/site/ho

          2. Gotham Gal

            They might be but the issue at hand on the streets is unacceptable. It isn’t only about housing it is also about social and mental health issues.

  5. pointsnfigures

    Tons of bums in Chicago. More than normal. Some I have seen on the street for 25 years. In SFO, my kids and I dodged human feces on the street. In the Loop of Chicago, beggars all over. It really makes city living unpleasant.Some of it is mental problems, some drug and a lot just inactivity by the mayor. Throwing more taxpayer money at it isn’t going to solve it. But economic growth would solve some of it.Read The Conservative Heart by Arthur Brooks. Great book on how to solve some of these problems

    1. Anne Libby

      Yes to @gothamgal:disqus about NYC; the last year has been a sea change.And to @pointsnfigures:disqus, you know I spent some time in Chicagoland this summer. Not only was the loop worse than it was in the 1980s — but I also saw a couple of people I took to be homeless at the Woodfield Mall.What the Loop and parts of NY have in common is a lot of open sidewalk level retail space. I was gobsmacked at seeing homeless people at Woodfield, because as mega-malls go they seem to have done a good job of keeping stores filled.I don’t know what to say or do about any of this. May bearing witness be a good place to start.

    2. Jlix


      1. leslie magee

        Thank you! and don’t forget Beggars. Ugh.

    3. leslie magee

      Bums and Beggars, such an unfortunate but telling choice of words. Unfortunates all , for a variety of reasons that I suppose would sound like excuses to you – reminds me of the Trump Ohio county women who just resigned (was fired?), today after she expressed differently but just as objectionably what you have here. As I am from the North Shore but currently reside in Ohio I would recommend you flee to the Shore you won’t see any Homeless folks in say Lake Forest , or Highland Park, got to get past Cook county though. Sad

  6. jeffgrillo

    I have only been here for 4 years but I agree to it has gotten a bit out of control. Do you know if NYC took in these homeless from surrounding cities? I heard in Portland, Oregon that our mayor made a deal with 5 surrounding cities to take care of the homeless population and now we have places like dignity village down the street from my parents house. The homeless also live in old boats on the Columbia and Willamette rivers and bc they aren’t in the shipping channel we can’t do anything about it. Thankfully my mom is kind enough to make a few of them scarves to stay warm in the winter. I’m not really sure what the solution is.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Clean shelters with social services that help people get back on their feet (including meds) but unfortunately many don’t have any empathy for these people. People consider this liberal government spending. I see it as the humane thing to do for others who are not as fortunate

      1. jeffgrillo

        I agree. I wish they could also make the shelters safer somehow. I’ve heard awful stories. There is a place for people like the homeless and it is not on the street. They need to get better and then feel inspired to do something that makes them happy and productive members of society.

      2. laurie kalmanson

        Deinstutionalization was not met with supportive services, and here we are today.Jail has become a large provider of mental health services for people who have no place else to goUtah has invested in supportive housing: cost effective and humanehttp://www.npr.org/2015/12/…The chronically homeless, on the other hand, are a subset of the homeless population that is often the most vulnerable. These are people who have been living on the streets for more than a year, or four times in the past three years, and who have a “disabling condition” that might include serious mental illness, an addiction or a physical disability or illness.More numbers:http://www.nami.org/Learn-M…Social StatsAn estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.1070% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.

        1. Gotham Gal

          So incredibly sad

  7. whitney doherty

    Yes this issue is affecting many of us – and the ones that have it the worse are the homeless.Sadly its a direct result of the cuts in the budget that Bloomberg made (he mostly shipped homeless people away and closed shelters) and it’s impact is being felt so acutely now under DiBlasio and he’s doing a very ineffective job of communicating that to us residents. I learned about it as I started to hear more and more a couple of years ago and so I researched the history.Problem is – spending on housing (both for the homeless as well as the working poor) is incredibly unpopular and all the tax breaks go to the “luxury hi-rises” and no one seems to want to tackle this issue from a planning standpoint so….we all just get mad at the inconvenience and filth. Reminds me of the “squeegee men” days.Bottom line is – we Nyers need to demand less tax breaks for the wealthy developers and more planning to deal with the decades old housing shortage and more investment in housing services for the marginally housed and under employed – the people at the bottom.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I totally agree with this.Taxing the developments and putting a portion of those builds towards middle income housing or low income housing.We do not want the squeegee men to return.