Yesterday I was sitting on a lovely bench near my apartment building in Battery Park City reading an alarming NY Times article about a Shelter slated to open in Chelsea, when I became so embarrassed and enraged and disgusted that I had to rush back to my apartment and conduct independent research on some specifics of said article. I am embarrassed because I have a home when so many others don’t. I am enraged because people are protesting the rights of others to have a home, too. I am disgusted at the rigid class lines drawn in this “melting pot” in this New York, New York...because if you can make it here, you better have a lot of scratch.
A group of well-to-do moms in Chelsea (aptly dubbed, Chelsea Moms), among others, are protesting the shelter because of it’s large size (possibly upwards of 300 homeless, mental ill and substance abusers could be housed at the location.) Basically, they’re all for helping people through the rough times just as long as the impoverished don’t outnumber the affluent. I highlight the Chelsea Moms group because as mothers one would think, having made the decision to bring a child into this world, they would have compassion and love and a strong desire to nurture…help, perhaps. But NO! They want to sweep the filth under the rug or at least dilute the problem enough so that a few vagrants would go unnoticed in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan.
What is more unsettling is the photograph that the Times (consciously, I hope) printed. Two little white girls dressed for ballet with silky blond hair smiling magically at the camera from behind the police barricade. The woman next to them, a Chelsea Mom I’m assuming, looks on with the glow and adoration reserved for people of privilege. Who are these Chelsea Moms? What are their issues? Do they have a website? Is there a place I can publicly shame them for their elitist attitudes? I want to know. After much googling, I came up empty…save for the feeling that this city really isn’t for everyone. It’s for the rich. Excessive rents should include an underbelly-free environment, I guess. Perhaps we should move anyone below upper-middle class to the outer-outer boroughs to maintain the shimmer of Oz. The funny part is, one of the acronyms for a nearby neighborhood is NoMad (North of Madison Park–don’t even get me started on that.) Isn’t a nomad a wanderer with no home. Well, no nomads in NoMad, THANKS!
What really compounds this sinking feeling I have is a quote from a homeless artist trying to get back on his feet. He claims to understand their complaints because they pay a lot for rent… He’s been beaten down enough that even he believes the high-rent payers deserve to avoid reality. Another quote is from some guy wondering how safe it will be to send his 12-year-old to school alone. Give me a fucking break guy. This is New York City–where did you think you were moving? These protesters should just be truthful about their gripes, they don’t want property value to do down because other rich fancy pants people won’t buy million dollar apartments next to a homeless mega-shelter. Don’t pretend it is about safety, don’t pretend it is about the legal size of a shelter, don’t pretend it is about anything else and certainly don’t pretend you give a shit about your fellow man in need–you callous bastards. The real issue should NOT be the size and location of a mega-shelter, the issue should be the need for a mega-shelter at all. We should be protesting the lack of jobs and affordable housing outside of Bloomberg’s Upper East Side mansion. We should be protesting poor substance abuse treatment facilities and a justice system that criminalizes addiction.
Go ahead and defend your vanilla acronym neighborhoods and turn this once great and diverse city into a playground for the rich…a Bloomberg paradise. They even have a petition going. They should all be ashamed of themselves.