There’s no simple solution to the extremely nuanced problem of homelessness. It’s one of those issues with roots in every social aspect of out society: education, healthcare, affordable housing, transportation, etc.
And it’s difficult from both perspectives. If you make a massive investment in a home, burying yourself in decades of debt to do so, you don’t want the value of your home depreciated a year into your mortgage. That’s what residents in Elmhurst faced, with the proposed shelter at the shuttered Pan American Hotel.
You can’t just put every homeless person on an island and separate him or her from everyone else. They need the access to food and public schools that is the right of every single New Yorker. They need a chance, just like everyone else gets a chance.
From the other side, it’s not like there’s one cause to homelessness. It depends on myriad factors. Some people are brought up in it, without a home, while others find their way their either through hard luck or health issues or a little bit of both.
Putting someone at that disadvantage, then asking him or her to work twice as hard for twice as few opportunities screams of a broken system.
It’s not a New York City problem as much as it is a universal problem, but it’s impact is clearly being felt here in New York. So much so that de Blasio announced a multi-million dollar initiative to address health and safety violations at over 500 shelters in the city.
The announcement of the task force is a great start, but there’s a long road ahead to fully addressing the city’s homeless problem. One that likely requires a pretty massive fiscal investment somewhere down the line.