Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Right It Is To Care

It took me a whole day to stop hyperventilating.
The Bloomberg administration has quietly begun charging rent to homeless families who live in publicly run shelters but have income from jobs.

The new policy is based on a 1997 state law that was not enforced until last week, when shelter operators across the city began requiring residents to pay a certain portion of their income. The amount varies based on factors that include family size and what shelter is being used, but should not exceed 50 percent of a family’s income, a state official said.

I'm speechless.

Dear Ask.com,
What percentage of my budget should go to housing?
Nauseous in New Brunswick

Dear Nauseous,
There's a chart.
30% Housing
18% Transportation
16% Food
8% Miscellaneous
5% Clothing
5% Medical
5% Recreation
5% Utilities
4% Savings
4% Other Debts

This is if one's situation is stable and one is looking to miraculously cut one's medical costs to 5% and spend less on pizza delivery. Evidently, even numbers are different in New York.
Vanessa Dacosta, who earns $8.40 an hour as a cashier at Sbarro, received a notice under her door several weeks ago informing her that she had to give $336 of her approximately $800 per month in wages to the Clinton Family Inn, a shelter in Hell’s Kitchen where she has lived since March.

“It’s not right,” said Ms. Dacosta, a single mother of a 2-year-old who said she spends nearly $100 a week on child care. “I pay my baby sitter, I buy diapers, and I’m trying to save money so I can get out of here. I don’t want to be in the shelter forever.”

“I think it’s hard to argue that families that can contribute to their shelter cost shouldn’t,” Robert V. Hess, the city’s commissioner of homeless services, said in a telephone interview Friday. “I don’t see this playing out in an adverse way. Our objective is not for families to remain in shelter. Our objective is to move families back into their own homes and into the community.”

I think it would be hard to argue that there's a bigger dick anywhere than Robert V. Hess, Commissioner of Homeless Services, who plainly has never missed an expensed meal in his life. His argument is precisely, on its face WRONG. Isn't it fortunate that he has a public office from which to broadcast his dickishness, and you can call it?

Robert Hess, Commissioner of Homeless Services:

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City:

You can help Mr. Hess conclude that he is full of MATH FAIL. It'd practically be a good deed to get him fired. Maybe he'd develop some compassion!
A flier posted in one shelter last week warned residents in bold, underlined type, “Failure to make the required contributions could result in the loss of your family’s temporary housing.”

But advocates for the homeless said the new policy was punitive and counterproductive, and some shelter residents, in protest, have already refused to sign the documents acknowledging receipt of the rent notifications.

“Families have been told to pay up or get out,” said Steven Banks, the attorney in chief for the Legal Aid Society. “The policy is poorly conceived, but even more alarmingly, it’s being poorly executed. What is happening is that we have seen cases of families being unilaterally told, without any notice of how the rent was calculated, that they must pay certain amounts of rent or leave the shelter. We’ve already had a case of a survivor of domestic violence who was actually locked out of her room.”

Mr. Hess acknowledged that if a family does not pay the required rent, it could be told to leave the shelter, but he noted that residents can contest the rent required through a state hearing.

Ms. Dacosta, for one, said she had spoken with her caseworker and demanded a hearing. Martha Gonzalez, who is 49 and lives with her 19-year-old son in a rundown shelter in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, said she was informed last week that she owes $1,099 in monthly rent on a $1,700 monthly income as a security guard in Midtown. She said she planned to contest the rent demand in court.

...Because the working poor have plenty of time to take take off for pointless, dickish hearings pointing out that dickish New York City is extorting rent from the poor. If there's one thing the homeless need it's being told that unless they pay up they'll be EVEN MORE HOMELESS. More homelesser. Man, I hope they splash those on superglam NY1! I still don't know what to say, but it's Limerick Day. That seems promising.

A homeless commissioner named Hess
thought the homeless should have even less
he charges them rent
dumb money spent
when saving up worries us hairless.

That sucks, but I write a blistering email. Hope you will, too.

Update: That guy is such a motherfucker I can't believe I got through this post without saying motherfucker.



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