Homeless Families in NYC

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Homeless woman in Lower Manhattan subway station. Homeless woman in Lower Manhattan subway station. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

In January, the city’s homeless population exceeded 50,000, the highest number since the Great Depression. Kim Velsey, New York Observer senior editor, talks about the growing number of homeless families that made up most of the city’s shelter population. She'll be joined by joined by Anne Pierre, a homeless mother Velsey wrote about in her article “The Return of Hooverville,” in the April 29 New York Observer


Anne Pierre and Kim Velsey

Comments [23]

WNYC Listener from Reality Land

If this woman was so desperate, why did she not just sell her children into prostitution?

Failing that, there are several bridges in NYC that she and her children could jump off of. Is she too lazy to walk to a bridge?

I don't understand why these people are my responsibility or why I have to hear about them on the radio.

May. 21 2013 02:31 PM
jf from ny

Moving costs a lot of money.

May. 09 2013 08:03 PM
jf from the future

In a Utopia the homeless would get an apartment and a job at the same time if they choose vertical farming and maintenance on a solar energy and wind power harvesting food for farmers markets the government could get tax from and selling clean energy. The government would pay them to fix their own apartments by taking it off the rent.

May. 09 2013 08:01 PM
Elizabeth from North Jersey

I heard this woman on the radio and I instantly wondered why she had children if she couldn't provide for them, and how she picked their father(s) who obviously don't care about their children? This woman's poor life choices aren't my responsibility or obligation to fix.

I curse Fiorello, the guy who championed the state constitution's change that he meant to mean giving all children education and health care but has now been expanded into a legal obligation to house everyone in the state. I could never afford my own apartment when I lived in NYC, which is why I moved to Jersey.

This woman could also move out of NYC. No job, no fathers for her children -- what's keeping her here? Maybe free housing?

May. 09 2013 02:09 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

emjayay from Brooklyn:

Have you checked the prices of PO boxes these days? I have the smallest size and the price has gone up from $24/year to over $60/year. If Ms. Pierre gets only $70/week cash, how can she afford a box? And if she is moved around every ten days, where should she get her box so that she would not have a hardship getting to it?

Melissa from Manhattan:

You want to move into a shelter and report back?

paul from BK NYC:

She is not currently "popping out kids." She used to work and could afford them then. It is only because she can't afford day care for her children that she had to take a leave of absence. That, by the way, is why many families have returned to single income - because child care is so expensive it exceeds the second income, so it's cheaper to do it yourself.

The Truth from Becky:

If she didn't have someone watching her children, she'd be hauled into jail for neglect. Pick one.

May. 09 2013 01:58 PM

Wow. I'm really shocked at all the negative comments here (not least b/c I thought personal attacks weren't allowed... moderator?)
I have a lot to say but in case I get cut off, let me start w/the most important thought first: why can't we have affordable housing in this city?? How many more luxury condos do we need? Are they really all filled to capacity? Tons of ugly new construction in the E. Village to house the rich, white, suburban hipsters. How about housing for those they are displacing? Quite frankly, I don't think 80/20 is good enough. How about 1:1 or 1:2 affordable (and I mean truly, affordable for working people not "affordable by NYC standards") bldgs for each new luxury bldg?

The only way I can afford to live here is b/c I live in a Mitchell-Lama co-op where I grew up. The waiting lists are closed for literally, decades, and then the process even to apply (for external applicants) is by random lottery. This particular co-op was built originally as low income housing, then declared middle income. Now the neighborhood is crazy popular and there are plenty of people living here who could no doubt afford to live elsewhere but HPD has done away w/the contingency that there be a MAXimum income level. So there are plenty of people living have second homes and fancy cars, while others are supposed to be grateful for living in a shelter?

We didn't hear Anna's backstory and shame on those who judge her w/o knowing it. Shelters ought to offer P.O. boxes. Or the P.O. ought to have a reduced rate worked out w/the city. (They are not free, nor cheap; rates vary from location to location.)

There are so many issues at work here, all interconnected. We need a truly supportive environment for working people which means: jobs; safe, affordable housing; childcare; after-school programs and on and on. It's really not in anyone's interest to have people out of work and living on the streets.

May. 09 2013 01:49 PM
emjayay from Brooklyn

I realise there are bigger issues at all levels in the homeless issue.

If one does not have a fixed address, it might be a good idea to get a post office box. Then obviously there is no way to miss all those crucially important letters. Why did this person not do that? Is this part of a pattern of not taking responsibility that led to being homeless in the first place?

I assume English is not her first language, but if she would learn to not say "you know" two or three times in each sentence and "like" a few times as well she might be more employable.

No one asked if there is some government paid day care or after school care for that third child (how old?) that she says prevents her from working. Or if it does not exist, why not?

May. 09 2013 12:47 PM
The Truth from Becky

$285 a month for groceries??? and Oh here we go with the excuses...I dont have a babysitter...I'm done.

May. 09 2013 12:38 PM
paul from Bk NY

If you are so close to the poverty line STOP HAVING KIDS especially if the men keep leaving you!!!! I am sorry but this type of ignorance fails the Darwin test of evolutionary intelligence, these people would all be eaten by lions given the poor life-skills and planning evident here.

May. 09 2013 12:38 PM
The Truth from Becky

My heart breaks for the children in these situations....damn shame.

May. 09 2013 12:35 PM
Jerry from nyc

where are the fathers? their suppurt $$$?

May. 09 2013 12:34 PM
The Truth from Becky

I missed the back story here on why she ended up homeless but I am sure it was another situation that could have been avoided by hardwork and dedication. Is she working now?

May. 09 2013 12:32 PM

It's too bad that the women and children suffer but the men who impregnate them are not held responsible.

May. 09 2013 12:32 PM
Paul from bk ny


May. 09 2013 12:32 PM
paul from BK NY

This woman is making me sick,WE ARE SUPPOSED TO CRY BECAUSE SHE CAN ONLY GET A 19" TV????????? Hey guess what lady?? I WORK AND I CAN'T AFFORD A TV EITHER. What have we come to????? This is BS there is REAL POVERTY in the world and we are dealing with "homeless' people complaining they can't have a TV....gimme a friggin break. I am voting Republican three times next election. I've had it.

May. 09 2013 12:30 PM
John from The Heights

I lost sympathy for this lady when she complained that she cannot afford a TV.

May. 09 2013 12:30 PM
Connie Goddard from New Jersey

As a student of what ails urban education systems, I am becoming increasingly disturbed by stories like this. At what point are we as a society going to begin to discuss the issue of whether the children whose needs complicate the lives of the women being interviewed need not have been conceived? One early, unexpected pregnancy is perhaps understandable (tho avoidable), but two or three or more are not. How can we talk about this in a sensible fashion?

May. 09 2013 12:28 PM
Melissa from Manhattan

I remember a quote from Bloomberg from about a year or so ago, responding to the rising rates of families living and staying longer in homeless shelters. He actually commented that the shelters have gotten so much nicer people don't want to move out!

May. 09 2013 12:22 PM

Why not hold some of these " non- profit " social service agencies to a degree of accountability for their financing which supports droves of utterly useless so-called social workers who produces absolutely no results? Instead of office storefronts to gather in the grant money of these do-gooders, they should be allowing their clients to sleep in the back room- that's more of a service than many of these "charities" provide, except, of course, on paper.

May. 09 2013 12:20 PM
paul from BK NYC

Ok another irresponsible person who is popping kids out she can't afford -- why are we supposed to feel bad? I am 40, don't have kids yet BECAUSE I CANT AFFORD THEM YET. I'm sorry if I can keep it in my pants until I am financialy stable enough so can she. Bu tshe didn;t and now we are all supposed to cry and throw more money at her and all the rest who have children recklessly then play the victim-card.. I am a progressive Democrat/Green but eople like this will make me Repub faster than the speed of light

May. 09 2013 12:20 PM
Debbie from Brooklyn

This is so heartbreaking. I hope this family is able to get on their feet. We need to pressure the city counsel and other reps to do more for them.

May. 09 2013 12:18 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Kim Velsey and The Observer did a terrific job on this article. The real question is why have the mainstream media in NYC virtually ignored the homeless crisis, Bloomberg's role.....

May. 09 2013 12:12 PM
Leslie Wile from Weston, CT

The division between rich and poor in NYC is so horribly sad and should not be necessary. Frequently, homeless people make themselves invisible, but often not; and I don't know how those whose daily mission is fashion and restaurants and investments can look at themselves in the mirror, because I suspect that when they vote or voice an opinion, these homeless people are blocked from their thoughts--out of the mix!!!

May. 07 2013 06:56 PM

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