We would like to make the following statement in light of tonight’s town hall meeting organized by Councilmember Bob Holden and an upcoming public hearing organized by Community Board 5:
We want to support the voices most often excluded from conversations that unfold when shelters are proposed in our communities. The Ridgewood Tenants Union stands in solidarity with our homeless neighbors as two shelters are proposed for the neighboring communities of Ridgewood and Glendale. Our two neighborhoods are being swept up by the rising tide of gentrification. With rents that are skyrocketing, it is no surprise that in the state of New York there are over 89,000 people in shelters, including over 20,000 children that sleep in New York City’s municipal shelters every night. Homelessness has been on the rise in our very own zip code of 11385 and we believe that neighbors that are in need of shelter should be able to access it, as is their right. Just as we should all have the right to housing, which to us is the real solution to the homelessness we see in our city.
While we support the two shelter openings in Ridgewood and Glendale, we do not believe that shelters are the answer. We believe that our housing crisis is, above all, the result of a moral crisis that will only be solved by housing-based, common sense solutions that are not driven by the usual anti-homeless, racist and classist sentiment that usually dominate these discussions. Housing is a human right. Our homeless neighbors have the right to live and exist in these communities. Anti-shelter advocates and organizers like Councilmember Bob Holden often dehumanize and criminalize the homeless but we stand firm in our commitment to defend all of our neighbors against prejudice and hate.
Lack of affordable housing is one of the primary causes of homelessness. The city’s solution is to rezone entire neighborhoods and give away public land to rich developers who make promises of creating affordable housing units. We know the city’s housing plan is not working for low-income families and working class people who do not even qualify for affordable housing. Mayor de Blasio’s plan is flawed to its core and only incites displacement and drives up homelessness. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo refuses to invest in supportive and permanent housing solutions to keep people in their homes and out of shelters. We only have ourselves to fight for what is right–why not fight together to create communities where everyone can thrive and live in dignity? Change can only be possible if we work together for solutions that are proven to work. We call on residents to shift their energies to the ones responsible for this housing crisis. Work with us to demand that the Governor and Mayor invest more in deeply affordable housing, renovate and expand public housing, and finally end homelessness in New York State.