In the News
May 12, 2023
After ageing out of foster care, Neely became homeless and began spending nights on the streets, in the subway system and New York City’s shelters.
New York City is one of the only places in the United States with a “right to shelter”: by law, authorities must provide a clean bed for the city’s homeless people – more than 70,000 by last count. But many of these facilities are notorious for crowded and unsanitary conditions where theft and assault is common.
Krys Cerisier, a homelessness organizer at Vocal-NY, a grassroots community group, compares New York City’s shelters to prisons: “A lot of folks who are released from prisons and jails often head to shelters first. And they’ll tell you, it’s the same thing,” she says. “It’s 10, 20 beds in one room, and everyone’s sort of on edge, nervous and scared.”
In many New York City shelters, residents aren’t allowed to stay past mornings, but must return before a strict night-time curfew or lose their bed. They can’t cook or even bring their food inside. “You don’t have autonomy over your own diet. There’s a lot of power that you lose when you are in these spaces,” Cerisier says. Often, the food that shelters offer is spoiled, unhealthy or inedible. “These are adults eating Frosted Flakes and a loaf of bread as a daily meal,” she says.