Christine Quinn the openly gay speaker of the New York city council today has an op-ed piece on the homeless problem in the Huffington post I will admit I have not read it.
This is not a criticism or praise, just a long held Idea I have on the homeless problem in NYC.
There are many layers to the homeless problem, housing, medical care mental health care feeding addiction payment of welfare and VA benefits because over 60% ob NYC’s homeless are veterans to name jjust a few.
The cost of providing these services falls to many agencies, in many locations in many government owned pieces of real estate built by public contract and serviced by public tender occupied by public servants all at great cost to the city.
I live in flushing queens, but in my 15 years in this city I have lived in every borough except Staten island and one thing they all have in common is foreclosed crumbling government buildings long deserted due to many departments being brought together into one because of technology and fine tuning. These also have a lot of bank foreclosed entertainment centers and strip malls, that once were the centre of communities but now are merely centers of public concern.
We have on northern boulevard a grand old picture complex dating back almost 100 years, it has terrazzo floors art deco ceilings and grand stair cases sweeping like something out of gone with the wind.
All these buildings are quickly becoming camps for the homeless, and the government paid police hunt them out and crews clean off the graffiti until one by one they have to be pushed over because of damage done by the homeless occupation.
My idea is this, take the theatre on northern move in 100 homeless interview them and take ones with building experience give them a job that job is they teach others without those skills. The 4 story theatre gets rehabbed by homeless work force into two floors of studio accommodation, one floor of cafeteria health and laundry where they can shower wash clothes receive medication and eat. All non qualified jobs such as laundry cleaning kitchen staff would be done by formerly homeless who as pay would receive industry wage and a roof over their heads. You could have GED classes, computer centers language centers resume writing all on one floor, these could be taught by senior unemployed too old to be employed with very few years left before retirement and you could draw from the ever growing pool of young college graduates who have the degrees yet are baristas and cab drivers because jobs are scarce.
Each homeless person accepted would live there one year, with the goal be in that time if they were well enough they would leave with their own apartment and a job. If they had mental health problems they would use that year to locate family or group homes, or a mental health placement. The huge benefits to the homeless HIVand aids community would be amazing we could provide aids meds free testing and ongoing counselling.
Cost could be shared by the Veterans Affairs by once identifying the client as a veteran the over head of their place in the system would be paid by the Va and Va liaison could have an office on site. Retirees, elderly unemployed the newly graduated and those trying to work after child birth could be the talent pool you could draw from.
I have 37 years experience as a chef, yet because I’m in a wheelchair I can’t work I and other disabled people could be employed as instructors .
Each client off the street regains dignity,regains a useful place in society and everyone wins we cut welfare we cut unemployment we cut the policing budget of trouble some homeless. Society is cleaned up as one deserted strip mall, after one theatre after a closed school are rehabbed and put to new use. The governments dollar value of real estate owned goes up, and manufacture , retail and medical infact there would not be one corner of society that could not benefit from such a program. With billions in new taxes flooding into our drowning economy.
The disabled benefit, the homeless the LGBTQ and the substance addicted all benefit in short the community at large wins.
This is the ultimate definition of YES WE CAN, so why can’t we?