Homelessness in New York: a deepening crisis on the streets of our state

Dylan Schor, Staff Writer

While it can seem surprising coming from the bubble of Port Washington, the homelessness problem on Long Island and in New York City has gotten worse and worse as the years pass by. It may not seem like a major deal from where you live, but the issue has gotten out of hand in all the surrounding areas.

Big Apple homelessness is at its highest rate since the Great Depression with thousands living on the streets. What is worse is the record amounts of children enrolled in public schools without a home, and the issue which has plagued the world for centuries shows no signs of slowing down. Any walk through the streets of Brooklyn or Manhattan will show passers-by just how horrible the situation is. Moreover, while Nassau County has services assisting the homeless population, not everyone has access to them.

“I only see the problem very occasionally in Port Washington, but I can still see the issue in our town, ” said junior Daniel Ruskin. “However, in the city, you can’t go anywhere without being reminded how horribly we take care of people. It’s really disgraceful.”

The issue isn’t unique to New York. Across the country, especially in major cities, the by-product of disenfranchising policy failures or crippling addiction epidemics has led to a borderline national emergency. In some areas, such as Los Angeles, there are “tent cities” full of homeless people camping out and living out their days outside of a sustainable home.

“The situation is heart-wrenching. You see these people–especially veterans who’ve previously dedicated their lives to serve our country–on the streets with little to no belongings,” said sophomore Jae Longaro.

In terms of xing the problem, the options are limited. Helping the homeless always comes with stigma, as doubts related to how much one person can help still exists. You’ll often hear things like “he’ll probably just spend it on drugs” or “I worked for everything I have, they should have to as well” as reasons people refuse to give to the people in need.

Moreover, many will cite the programs that governments do have in place, such as homeless shelters and food kitchens to justify their inaction. However, this national attitude is a big part of the reason that homelessness still pervades society.

It is hard for one to get effective treatment for addiction if they do not have the means to take care of themselves or a home to provide some sense of stability. One has a terrifically hard time finding a job to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” if they do not have experience, an address to give employers, or a safe means of saving up their resources.

While we debate the best course of action, people are dying. While long term solutions do need to be sorted out, a short term temporary fix to allow people to live in peace and safety also needs to be discussed.

“It’s one of the worst issues plaguing America today,” said Ruskin. “It’s hard to believe a country with so much wealth has a problem like this.”

Whether it be investing a lot more spending into programs and shelters for the homeless, making sure everyone has a place to sleep, eat, and live in peace, are goals our nation should strive for. Solutions like increased affordable government housing and federal jobs would relieve the country of this growing problem. Anything would be better than the very little our country is doing.

While it may not seem like that big of a deal looking outside from Port Washington, the homelessness issue in New York and across the country is something that needs great amounts of national attention.