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14 Oct, 2010 00:16

Homelessness hits record high in NYC

Homelessness has reached unprecedented peaks in the Big Apple, amid failed promises to reduce, and even eliminate it.

At one of New York’s homeless shelters, RT witnessed a lottery, but it was not a lottery to win some money. Dozens of people were patiently waiting to find out if they would “win” a roof over their heads for the night.

They were not criminals and they were not drunks. Their “flaw” was that they didn’t have a home. The shelter they were hoping to get into for the night was packed.

Lately, the chances of getting a bed in New York City have been slimmer than ever. Homelessness in the city has sky-rocketed by 50 per cent.

Last year, almost 120,000 different New York City men, women and children spent at least a night in a city shelter. That’s a shocking number and the highest number that has ever been recorded,” said senior policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless Patrick Markee.

Keith, who became homeless in 2009 – said he is fifth on stand-by to get a bed, and he considered himself lucky. For him, this meant at least some hope, which was better than no hope at all.

If my number doesn’t come up, I am going to be outside in the rain,” Keith explained.

Yusef Ramelize has experienced exactly what it feels like calling a wet bench in the soaking rain home, shelter, and bed.

I put together this project where I go homeless one week every year. Most of my nights I ended up sleeping on a cardboard box in front of a store,” he said.

Posting his experience in a blog, Yusef was able to collect thousands of dollars in donations for the homeless.

The reality is a lot of people are one check away from being homeless, and I am just trying to make people aware of that,” he said.

In a packed city like New York, homelessness is no novelty.

In New York, you can buy a coffee for almost eight dollars, while there are thousands of New Yorkers who do not even have that amount to live on each day.

The statistics are higher than they have been since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

There are more than 37,000 homeless people, including nearly 15,000 children who are homeless each night in New York City. A nearly record number of homeless families, nearly 10,000 homeless families,” said Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the homeless.

In an apocalyptic state of the economy, many people have been hoping to be saved.

The President, the politicians – there is something they have got to be able to do. I am willing to say that I need help, all the help I can get,” said Lani Chris, a homeless New Yorker.

As the cries for help have been stretching across the country, the US government has been sticking to the official party line, saying the economy has landed back on its feet. But if avoiding the reality continues to be the norm, homelessness could become a plague of the nation.