NYC Homeless Fearful of Approaching Winter
By Lucy Wyndham
Renowned author Ron Hall once had the following to say about being homeless: “The biggest misconception about the homeless is that they got themselves in the mess – let them get themselves out. Many people think they are simply lazy. I urge those to make a friend at a local mission and find out how wrong these assumptions are.” Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. During July this year 61,697 homeless individuals, that included 22,384 children, were sleeping in municipal shelters across the city every night. Of these homeless individuals, approximately 58% are Black according to the Coalition for the Homeless. While there is no such thing as an ‘easy day’ to a vulnerable homeless individual who has lost control of his life, a New York winter comes with its own challenges that include plummeting temperatures, rain, and even snow.
How does the City of New York aid the homeless?
According to national law, the city has to provide shelter to those in need of it. In response to the increased need for assistance during inclement weather, New York’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has initiated what is referred to as a ‘Code Blue’. In its most basic configuration, Code Blue is fundamentally an arrangement of emergency measures that are initiated to help protect the homeless in times of severe weather conditions. During the coldest nights of winter, the DHS not only increase their number of outreach vans but also bypass their normal intake procedures to make sure that no individual in need is neglected. There are also an increasing number of soup kitchens and clothes drives that operate throughout the city during winter in an attempt to alleviate as much anguish as possible.
Community involvement can be very beneficial
With racial prejudice still very much alive within the city, there is an increasing number of compassionate individuals of all races that are rallying together to assist NYC’s most vulnerable residents. Giving money to the homeless is often the first thing that comes to mind when considering ways to assist them. While such donations can buy a much-needed warm meal, or a means to stay warm such as a blanket or battery-operated heater, there are individuals that prefer to assist in other ways. Luckily there are numerous other ways, such as the following, that assistance can be provided to help a homeless person ward off the cold during winter.
Donate warm clothes, food or money to charity organizations
Donating warm clothes is one of the best ways to assist the countless black homeless during winter. Charity organizations such as BronxWorks are making it increasingly easier for members of the public to reach out and help the homeless in their communities. Food is a common need amongst the homeless despite outfits such as The Salvation Army serving more than 2.5 million meals to the homeless of NYC every year. Donations can be made to the SA and other charities operating within the city in the form of non-perishable food items as well as cash that can be used to purchase required food items. If you see a homeless person begging in the cold you can warm both a stomach and a heart by buying thema cup of coffee or soup, s seemingly small gesture that can change a life.
Poverty is not persnickety and can affect anyone at any stage of their life. Until such a time where prejudice and poverty are abolished in all its forms, the countless African Americans living on the streets of not only NYC but the whole of the USA will have to rely on their own faith and the charity of others to help make it through another day without a place to call home.