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They say they thought there were fewer homeless people than before.
October 22, 2013 9:21 AM   Subscribe

If you declare, in a famous poem affixed to the Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me,” you might consider that a certain commitment has been made. (SLNYer)
posted by Rustic Etruscan (31 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I live on the Upper West Side, and the population of people sleeping on the streets has ballooned in our neighborhood over the past year or so, regardless of weather. Additionally, According to the Department of Homeless Services there is an estimated 128 street homeless youth in NYC. You read that correctly: 128.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:28 AM on October 22, 2013


Except that we didn't do that. The French did.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:32 AM on October 22, 2013


Emma Lazarus wrote the poem in 1883, three years before the statue's dedication. In 1903, the city affixed a plaque with the poem on it to the statue's pedestal. The poem and its place on the statue are about as French as baseball and bald eagles.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Additionally, According to the Department of Homeless Services there is an estimated 128 street homeless youth in NYC. You read that correctly: 128.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be surprised that it's so high or so low. (I'm surprised it's so low.)
posted by hoyland at 9:42 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was a really, really great article. Frazier gets beneath the plastic surface of Bloomgerg's New York, out to the outskirts, where they've shoved everybody they don't want to see...the line about the twinkle turning to ice, that whole para, was killer.
posted by Diablevert at 9:43 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The French did.

Nope. The plaque on the base quotes from The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus (American), and was affixed by a campaign led by her friend Georgina Schuyler.
IN MEMORY OF EMMA LAZARUS

Tablet on Liberty Island to the Poetess Who Sang of the New Colossus.

The memory of Emma Lazarus, a writer of note in her day, has been revived by her friend, Miss Georgina Schuyler, by a graceful act. Yesterday a memorial bronze tablet was unveiled on Bedloe's, or Liberty Island, as it is now called, just inside the entrance to the pedestal of Bartholdi's gigantic statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.

The choice of this place rests on the interest which Emma Lazarus took in the Liberty Statue as a symbol, for a land where the down-trodden and despised have found a chance to develop their own careers, an interest which found one expression in her verses on "The New Colossus." They were written in 1883 and are inscribed on the tablet which Miss Schuyler has dedicated to her shade as follows:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With Conquering limbs astride from land to land,
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A Mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore-
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me;
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus was the daughter of the late Moses Lazarus and came of one of the old Jewish families of New York, well-known in the best society of the city. She died in 1887.
posted by zamboni at 9:49 AM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Additionally, According to the Department of Homeless Services there is an estimated 128 street homeless youth in NYC. You read that correctly: 128.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be surprised that it's so high or so low. (I'm surprised it's so low.)


I think we're supposed to be surprised at their audacity in reporting that it is so low when presumably it's actually much higher? I might be wrong but that was my gut reaction. It does seem VERY low to me but I don't live in New York so I'm not basing this on real knowledge.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


This issue has been putting quite the showing here. However, this article also deserves the attention. It's one of those chunks of New Yorker perfection.
"In the warm Saturday-night air the city was hivelike, humming, fabulously lit, and rocking with low, thrilling, Daisy Buchanan-like laughter. A young couple slept under a blanket beneath the hoardings at the Twenty-fifth Street Armory; the boy still had his baseball cap on. Meanwhile, attendees at a gala going on inside the armory took breaks on the sidewalk just around the corner and smoked and made phone calls. I ducked into the subway and rode a crowded No. 4 train uptown and went back to the path center. I had never seen it after dark. Up here, the night was quieter, and the building with its pointed end and five brightly illuminated floors rose up like an ocean liner, or the yet unsunk front of one."
posted by mwhybark at 9:59 AM on October 22, 2013


(oh and look! a New Yorker typo! "path center" should be "PATH center," and I bet Frazier will shit a brick over such an error in that hewn and chiseled paragraph.)
posted by mwhybark at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, as long as we're doing awesome quotes from the awesome article:
Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, the Bloomberg administration official most significantly involved in its policies for the homeless, is a trim, gray-haired woman in her mid-fifties whose father was the mayor of Menands, a village north of Albany. She grew up there and came to New York City right after getting her degree at SUNY Buffalo Law School. Intricate questions of public policy that would confuse and baffle most people intrigue her. Her blue eyes often have an expression that can only be described as a twinkle. I’ve seen this look in other Bloomberg staffers’ eyes, and in photos of the Mayor himself. It reminds me of the twinkle in the eyes of the Santa Claus in the Coca-Cola ads from the nineteen-fifties (inappropriately, given the Mayor’s feelings about soft drinks).

I think the contagious Bloomberg twinkle comes partly from the Mayor’s role as a sort of Santa figure. He works for the city for a dollar a year, he gives away his money by the hundreds of millions, and he manifestly has the city’s happiness and well-being at heart. Every rich person should be like him. His deputies and staffers twinkle with the pleasure of participating in his general beneficence, as well they should. “You can’t make a man mad by giving him money”—this rule would seem to be absolute. And yet sometimes people in the city he has done so much for still get mad at Bloomberg and criticize him. At the wrong of this, the proper order of things is undone, and the Bloomberg twinkle turns to ice.
He's fair to them, though, I think. I can't imagine they like fair...

Upon preview: I wouldn't bet against the New Yorker copy edit desk, mwhybark. The lower-case "path" is repeated several times --- I bet the city got all "it's the OOs, let's pretend we're e.e. cummings" about it.
posted by Diablevert at 10:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we're supposed to be surprised at their audacity in reporting that it is so low when presumably it's actually much higher? I might be wrong but that was my gut reaction. It does seem VERY low to me but I don't live in New York so I'm not basing this on real knowledge.

The reported number is about 5% of what most experts say the real number is.

Also, from the OP's article, the city is paying shelters $3444 a month for each family to live. For that price you could have a SWEET apartment in Manhattan.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:09 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


(oh and look! a New Yorker typo! "path center" should be "PATH center," and I bet Frazier will shit a brick over such an error in that hewn and chiseled paragraph.)

Hah, nope. In the printed version it's a small caps PATH . I think something about the formatting gets lost in the digital conversion. I believe I've seen the same thing before on their website, maybe for something like WWII, which looks even worse as wwii.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 10:35 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, it couldn't have been WWII because it appears to happen only when the periods between letters are left out. Hmm.

Oh, here it is. Okay then.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 10:36 AM on October 22, 2013


I recall seeing some graffiti on a subway a long time ago:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore-
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me;..
AND WE'll PUT THEM ALL ON WELFARE
posted by Postroad at 11:35 AM on October 22, 2013


Hah, nope. In the printed version it's a small caps PATH . I think something about the formatting gets lost in the digital conversion.

It's a browser thing, I think. I get small caps PATH in Firefox on OS X.
posted by hoyland at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2013


The PATH error is not actually a typo. Instead of coding the acronym in all-caps and then enforcing a reduced-size CSS style on it to make it accord with the print smallcaps convention, the copy has it all l/c and is transformed to s/c via CSS.

Cut-and-paste loses the styling info and voila! Bob's yer typo.
posted by mwhybark at 12:12 PM on October 22, 2013


Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me;..
AND WE'll PUT THEM ALL ON WELFARE

And we'll deny them insurance and benefits.
FTFY
posted by BlueHorse at 12:16 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Small caps aside. It's funny: there's no way the 2013 USA would ever ask for another country's huddled masses.

Actually it's less funny and more depressing. Most of us are here because the US was open to "wretched refuse". Are there any good examples of countries today that are open to that kind of immigration?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 12:29 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is is that we spend so much running these shelters instead of smaller amounts of cash to people directly as a housing allowance? I assume there's some administrative cost, so that whereas I might pay Cost for a rental, having the state pay for it would total Cost+X-Administrative-Expense, but surely that isn't three times a normal rent.

I know that when you get housing subsidy on TANF, it is sent directly to the landlord. It's also ludicrously inadequate - a friend was getting $250/month to pay her rent in Minneapolis. Seriously, you can't even rent a single room in a group setting for that. De facto, this works out as "people who know the TANF recipient sublet rooms to them at below-market rates" - so someone might have a room that typically goes for $350 plus utilities and, out of sympathy, rent it at $250.

So I don't understand why, if they can send $250/month directly to the landlord for TANF, they can't send regular rent to the landlord for homeless people. And if they got rid of the shelters and put everyone in apartments at half the cost, then they could spend the leftovers on giving real rent money to TANF recipients.
posted by Frowner at 12:49 PM on October 22, 2013


Why is is that we spend so much running these shelters instead of smaller amounts of cash to people directly as a housing allowance? I assume there's some administrative cost, so that whereas I might pay Cost for a rental, having the state pay for it would total Cost+X-Administrative-Expense, but surely that isn't three times a normal rent.

Reagan's Cadillac queens, in short. The underlying presumption that people are only poor because they're lazy, that giving them money encourages the lazy to leech off the just, and that if you don't watch Those People like a hawk they'll rob you blind. So you set up hoops: you only get the money if you a,b,c,d-w. You've got to be certified and inspected. We've got to freeze the money in a block of ice, so it can't be spent on things we don't approve of. Just think what would happen if you gave someone $900 to spend on rent and they found a place for $825 and spent the rest on a jug of Blue Nun and a carton of Newports; the earth would stop spinning on it axis.

Sigh. I'm grumpy today. This fallen world.
posted by Diablevert at 1:18 PM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like Lou Reed's take on the statue of liberty from the song "Dirty Boulevard"

"Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor, I'll piss on 'em. That's what the Statue of Bigotry says. Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death. And get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard."
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:12 PM on October 22, 2013


Frowner, I think it's the consequence of a fractured welfare system composed of a horrifyingly-large number of separate programs at Federal, State, and city levels (plus private initiatives). Any city that replaces this hodge-podge with something sensible will find itself inundated by desperate people. So the fact that shelters are more expensive than actual private dwellings isn't a bug; it's a feature. Like the workhouses of Charles Dickens' day or the spike in Orwell's time, they're meant to be unpleasant enough to keep all but the most desperate people out - out of shelters in general perhaps, but mostly out of the city's shelters in particular.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:38 AM on October 23, 2013


So I don't understand why, if they can send $250/month directly to the landlord for TANF, they can't send regular rent to the landlord for homeless people.

Section 8 works this way, too.* But the Section 8 waiting list in Minneapolis last opened for two days two months before I moved here, five years ago.

*Section 8 payments are somehow pegged to what HUD determines is fair market value for the unit. I forget what happens if there's a gap between HUD's calculation and the actual rent.
posted by hoyland at 6:11 AM on October 23, 2013


I am constantly driven to distraction by articles that claim to be about NYC but use only Manhattan and Brooklyn as their statistics factors. Hey, New Yorker! There are FIVE BOROUGHS! Three of them are MUCH CHEAPER than the other two! No one but no one should be figuring "What it takes to live in NYC" by the most expensive boroughs.
posted by corb at 8:36 AM on October 23, 2013


And if they got rid of the shelters and put everyone in apartments at half the cost, then they could spend the leftovers on giving real rent money to TANF recipients.

Post my borough-snobbery rage: so a lot of this money has restrictions on it to prevent abuse. One of the reasons it has to go directly to landlords is so that it can be verified it is actually delivered to the intended purpose.

It is, though, interesting to see the path of why this stuff comes up - and also, the cost, even many years later, of constitutional amendments and the legacies mayors can leave. I had no idea this was LaGuardia's baby.
posted by corb at 8:40 AM on October 23, 2013


There are FIVE BOROUGHS! Three of them are MUCH CHEAPER than the other two! No one but no one should be figuring "What it takes to live in NYC" by the most expensive boroughs.

Do you mean to imply here that New York's homeless have only themselves to blame for their homelessness? Please clarify, because I suspect others may infer it even if you didn't intend it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:52 AM on October 23, 2013


Also:
The number of market-rate rental apartments available to those of low income is extremely small. A metaphor one often hears about the homeless is that of the musical chairs: with such a small number of low-income-affordable apartments, the players who are less able to compete, for whatever reason, don’t get the chairs when the music stops. Every year, more and more chairs are taken away. The existence of so many people who are homeless indicates that a very large number of renters are close to that condition. Housing advocates in the Bronx report that some of the people they try to help are paying seventy per cent of their income in rent and that others are living doubled up and tripled up and in unimproved basements and in furnace rooms—conditions that recall the days of Jacob Riis.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2013


Do you mean to imply here that New York's homeless have only themselves to blame for their homelessness? Please clarify, because I suspect others may infer it even if you didn't intend it.

Oh, no, my entire ire is saved for the New Yorker.

Ie, there are real problems in all boroughs with homelessness, but if you go for the most shocking version in an attempt to make people see how awful it is, you're not going for the most accurate/most realistic version, and people can see that, and they're going to dismiss the problem entirely when they see you are lying or putting most of the blame on a problem that is not the main force of the problem. So by trying to be alarmist, you are removing the possibility of real alarm, if that makes any sense.

(However, there are real problems with homeless advocacy organizations being personally unwilling to travel to outer boroughs or send people to travel to outer boroughs, thus preventing people from being housed in outer boroughs, meaning more expensive housing and less people ultimately being housed, because there are a limited amount of funds for the overall programs.)

The problems with people being housed in NYC are very VERY rarely "I make a moderate income and have good credit, but there is absolutely no place I can rent in the five boroughs for a low price." As in, I have not seen this ever to be the primary problem. There are mental illness problems, there are no-credit no-rental history problems, there are previous-eviction/previous-Housing Court issue problems, there are no-consistent work-history problems, there are slumlord problems, substance abuse problems, shitty family member problems, lack-of-job problems, too-many-people problems...and a host of others. But the problem is usually not "Oh man, the cost of housing in Manhattan and Brooklyn is too high, if not for that we could totally solve homelessness!"
posted by corb at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2013


(However, there are real problems with homeless advocacy organizations being personally unwilling to travel to outer boroughs or send people to travel to outer boroughs, thus preventing people from being housed in outer boroughs, meaning more expensive housing and less people ultimately being housed, because there are a limited amount of funds for the overall programs.)

Doesn't the Bronx, where some people pay 70% of their incomes for rent, count as an outer borough? I don't doubt that this inner-borough focus is a problem, but I do doubt you've read the article, which doesn't read to me like alarmist propaganda. Ian Frazier is no Matt Taibbi, and "Oh man, the cost of housing in Manhattan and Brooklyn is too high, if not for that we could totally solve homelessness!" is not his argument.

I understand, though, that you may be arguing against pieces and people you've seen in the past, and not this one.

Also, regardless of the troubles of homeless-advocacy groups, PATH itself, the hub of the city government's homeless-assistance program, stands in the Bronx, and the piece establishes that with a fair amount of emphasis.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:32 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It does, though they don't base the statistics on it. But that doesn't necessarily mean the problems are rental costs - it could also be (and I'd argue very likely is) income constraints. Ie even if the rent is 700$ a month, which is ridiculously reasonable, if you're making 1000$ a month, that's still 70% of your income.

The overall piece, I will grant, is not largely about the piece I pulled out and objected to - it includes a lot of very interesting history and data about homelessness and programs. The Manhattan-Brooklyn focus is just a thing I've been seeing emerging again and again and it's gotten to the point of being enraging by now.
posted by corb at 10:46 AM on October 23, 2013


Ie even if the rent is 700$ a month, which is ridiculously reasonable, if you're making 1000$ a month, that's still 70% of your income.

It's ridiculously reasonable if you make enough money for it to be ridiculously reasonable. A millionaire's good price is a pauper's impossibility.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:53 AM on October 23, 2013


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