Friday, January 9, 2009

Homelessness

This morning, when Mary was about to board the subway (which makes its final stop at 242nd Street, where she boards), the first 4 cars each had 2 homeless men sleeping in them. She went to the 5th car and found "only" one sleeping there.

Yes, we routinely see homeless people on the subway, and we did last winter, too. But not this many, this often.

Last week, Mary saw a man on the subway without shoes, when it was probably 20 degrees outside. If her feet had been the same size as his ...

One of Mary's co-workers said that Penn Station has really started having a problem with homeless people, and the police have had to crack down. More and more of them beg for food as opposed to money, as well.

Our theory is that the shelters are becoming more crowded because of the economic disaster, forcing the "career homeless" into public view. Here's a lede from a NY Times article from October 2008: "More families entered New York City’s homeless shelter system in September than in any other month since data has been collected." The article says that in Sept. 2008, nearly 1500 families entered shelters in NYC: a record since they started keeping track 25 years ago.

The city feels as if it's walking a tightrope right now, teetering on the brink of falling back into the destitution of recent decades. If that happens, frankly I hope all three of us are able to move somewhere else.

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