Why NYC’s Homeless Resist Shelters

Horror stories show why NYC’s homeless resist shelters despite frigid temperatures:

It’s enough to make anyone willing to tough it out on the streets – regardless of the temperature.

Rats, bed bug’s and violence plague the city’s dysfunctional and overcrowded shelter system, built to house people temporarily but now straining under the weight of an expanding crisis, according to advocates and the homeless.

Nearly every homeless person the Daily News interviewed Monday detailed stories of fighting, filth and widespread thievery at shelters. Some had even worse horror stories.


Jermaine Williams, 39, a Brooklyn native who’s been homeless for a decade, said he was once awakened by a man masturbating in his face at the homeless shelter on Bedford Ave.

“You’re sleeping and somebody’s standing over you, the whole dorm is there, and nobody’s saying anything,” he said.

“There’s a guy standing over you. He’s butt naked, and he’s doing him(self), in front of you.”

When Williams spoke to The News, he was dressed in three layers of clothing and covered in three blankets, just a few blocks from the shunned shelter. Despite Monday’s frigid temps — in the mid-30s most of the day — he won’t go back.

“Most of the shelters are not run like a shelter. Like, ‘I want to get off the streets. … Let’s eat. Everything’s OK, man.’ It’s run like a jail,” he said.

“It’s just like Rikers Island.”

Outside Penn Station Monday night, Charmain, 41, swore she would never return to a shelter.

“I’m not going. They’re going to have to lock me up. The streets are a lot safer. I almost got raped (in a shelter), said the woman, who’s been homeless for a year.

“I’m frustrated. The community, they’re doing more than the mayor,” she said, adding officials “misunderstand.”

“When you force people into shelters, that’s a problem. You’re putting all these problems together to make a bigger problem.”

Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo, political enemies, agree that shelters are a problem — but disagree on the solution.


“For decades, our shelters have not been safe enough and have not been clean enough, and it’s quite clear that a lot of homeless people chose not to go to them,” de Blasio said

He said the city is adding more security to some shelters, and pushing so-called “safe havens,” which are smaller spaces less prone to problems.

Cuomo hinted that the state could be planning an audit on the city’s system “If shelters are not up to code, then we are going to be very diligent in our inspection and management of the existing shelter system,” said Cuomo, who promised more details next week.

The governor, who often plays footsie with de Blasio’s political rivals, said he planned to talk with city Controller Scott Stringer about his office’s past audits of the system.

A City Hall spokesman said the state already inspected city shelters, and that the administration welcomed “any additional resources or financial assistance to improve shelter conditions.”

Stringer also has an uneasy relationship with de Blasio and is a possible challenger in the next mayoral election.
Jennifer Flynn of the homeless advocacy group VOCAL-NY said the problem is shelters aren’t meant to house people permanently.“If the system worked the way it should, they’d be a part of the continuum of care,” she said. “But they’re not working that way.”De Blasio recently unveiled a plan to provide 15,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years and has called on Cuomo to add more.

Luis Garcia, a 35-year-old homeless man, 9 thinks he should be allowed to stay in public places like the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

“Just let us stay inside and keep warm,” he said. “OK, if I do something wrong, take me out, but how can I go out at this time in that kind of temperature?”

Now after reading this article and obviously knowing that the city of New York has a large scale issue with homelessness. Would you think a person would be seen as a good person if they made light of a person becoming homeless? Do you honestly feel it is justified that someone on the internet pretending to be famous is alright to attack someone who has done nothing to them but become busy with their own life? You see I really hope that Glen Randy Schoen aka Glensroom someday finds out what it’s like to have nothing. To have nowhere warm to live. No roof over his head. It can happen to any of us in one moment. I myself have a genuine care for others. I respect everyone equally unless they treat me in a way that is not respectful. Unless they attack me for no reason. Unless they make up numerous lies about me. Threaten to kill me or hit me. Then you see I have had enough. I will not sit back and become or feel a victim. I will treat them the way they treated me. Until someday they die, because let’s face it Glensroom is never going to shut the fuck up about anyone else. He is all mouth. All shit talk. All bullshit.