Advocacy

Information related to the NYC homelessness crisis (shelter system/housing) and mental health issues.

Housing is a Human Right! (My Testimony)

A speech by M.A. Dennis, performed at capitol building in Albany, NY on 6/11/18

The Declaration of Independence states:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”

And when I contrast my lengthy length of stay in the New York City shelter system with the Declaration of Independence’s creed, it is clear to see that housing is a human right.

Housing is a human right because there is no LIFE in the shelter system; Bounce, Shorty, Mustafa, Khan, Jimmy, the new Spanish guy on the third floor, Juan, and the anonymous body bag I saw them throw inside the Medical Examiner’s van, those are all of the individuals that died around me while I was homeless.

Housing is a human right because there is no LIBERTY in the shelter system. Do you have any idea how dehumanizing it is to have a 79-cents bag of peanut M&Ms that you purchased on sale from Duane Reade with your last dollar, confiscated by the security guard at the shelter’s entrance checkpoint? Just about every place in New York has Wi-Fi because they know everyone has a cellphone, tablet, or laptop; yet, shelters make you feel like a second-class citizen by denying you the liberty to possess the electronic devices one needs to stay connected to family, work and society.

Housing is a human right because there is no HAPPINESS in the homeless shelter. There’s nothing happy about seeing feces, dirty needles or worse on the floor almost everyday. There’s nothing happy about playing Food Poisoning Roulette each time you take a chance on visiting the cafeteria. There’s nothing happy about having your underwear stolen, before you get a chance to wash them. There’s nothing happy about a guy coming into my room and threatening me with a razor blade because I didn’t give him 50-cents for a cup of coffee. These are a few reasons why some would rather take their chances living on the street–they feel the odds of survival are much better.

And that’s why I’m so happy to now be living in my own apartment thanks to a rental assistance program voucher provided by NYC, and the social service organizations that advocate for landlords to take these vouchers. I want the others, left behind and still suffering in homeless shelters, to also attain this happiness. Because again, there is no happiness, nor liberty or life, in being homeless.

“Housing is a human right!”


RESOURCES

Coalition for the Homeless
129 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038
Telephone: 212-776-2000

Crisis Intervention walk-in hours begin at 9 am Monday – Friday.
A limited number of people seen on a first come, first serve basis,
so it is advised to get here no later than 8 a.m.

Take the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, or Z trains to the Fulton St. Station.


Urban Justice Center

40 Rector St., 9th Fl.
New York, NY 10006

646-602-5600

Founded with two primary goals – to make legal services easily accessible to people living on the streets and in poverty, and to make social advocacy and law reform efforts directly responsive to the daily struggles of those individuals.


Care for the Homeless

30 East 33rd Street, 5th Floor

New York, NY 10010

212-366-4459

Meets the health care and social service needs of homeless people in New York City and reduces barriers that homeless people face in accessing care.


The Actors Fund

Fosters stability and resiliency, and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals.

W. 49th St & 7th Ave, 10th Fl

800-221-7303

actorsfund.org


NYC Well

A confidential and free mental health service. Talk, text, chat 24/7.

888-692-9355


Plentiful (App)

Provides information for various food pantries across the city.