Homelessness & Vacancy

Visit to Intake Facility 18/2/13

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I decided to visit the Brooklyn Women’s Shelter this afternoon on 116 Williams Avenue. The shelter is an intake facility for ’emergency’ and temporary boarding. It is located in an isolated and desolate part of East New York. It is open 24 hours.

Aesthetics

The building looks like a reprimanding institution. On the inside it’s very dull, gloomy and sterile- very colonial looking. The logo couldn’t have been more reassuring of their plight

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Relationships

The workers seemed to have good rapport with the home-seeking tenants, which was a good sign. At least there was a candid scene [for the two that checked-in]amidst the overwhelming security presence. There were 3 security guards [2 females + 1 male] at the check-in/search point.

The Contradictions

I went in there with questions, questions I could not receive answers on because I did not have permission from The Department of Homeless Services.

First off, I think I was a bit timid because of the environment. As I walked in the building, there was a woman who looked like she was on the verge of tears- she had just gotten of the phone and had a blank sympathetic stir as though I could help. Sadly, I simply walked in after a deep deep breath.

Where it went down:

“I would like to see if there’s anyone I could talk to that administers this shelter… I’m conducting research…” I was being sacked after that. But then I decided to change my reason right away.

“I could be homeless”, “I am homeless”, “Not at the moment, no, I’m not yet homeless”, “anyone could be homeless”…. right, I couldn’t get my story straight. I was ready to check myself in as homeless but they wouldn’t accept- they said I had to come back with a notarized note from my friend that I could no longer live with them.  That was my story, that I was couch-surfing and homeless. I wanted to go through the process of being enrolled or admitted into the system to gain an interior perspective of what it was like, although I would have fainted had I been admitted. In all seriousness, it worries me to know that the system runs on some base of bias- I may not have fit her idea of homeless but I DID say I was homeless and thus I should have been ushered to enroll.

She did provide some helpful information:

Once enrolled, I need to go through a 21 day assessment to check for TB (Tuberculosis) among other requirements, then I’ll be transferred to another shelter where I may receive extended or permanent shelter. She said to contact 33 beaver St. DHS

I spoke with Ms. ‘DeJesus’ @116 Williams.

The next step is to get with DHS – a futile attempt I foresee.

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