Sunday, March 31, 2019

School Scope: What are we willing to rally for? - Thoughts on shelters

Published in The WAVE - March 29, 2019 -

School Scope:  What are we willing to rally for?
By Norm Scott

I’ve been following local stories and hysteria regarding the incoming shelter on Beach 101St. My initial reaction was to join the fray of protests. There certainly are very legitimate concerns as Rockaway has been screwed over time and again and landlords often get away with outrageous profits. Would the intensity of the reaction be the same if the shelter were further downtown instead of in what is considered a gentrifying area? Is this just a simple case of NIMBY or are the issues more complex than that?

The reality is that no one wants shelters in their neighborhood. Even the people in shelters don’t want to be there. Are there any solutions at all?

I was struck by the It’s Our Turn article last week by Rockaway Revolution (RR): Homeless shelters aren’t the answer, but neither is hating on the most disenfranchised members of our society. Rockaway Revolution asked a number of pertinent questions that everyone should be asking even if against the shelter. They call for us to be solution oriented instead of just reacting. The call for investment in permanent housing seems to be an excellent idea. But then I think of NYCHA permanent housing, with so many here in Rockaway, and some of the catastrophes visited upon NYCHA residents around the city. Have you noticed any of our local politicians leading rallies to improve NYCHA housing? I would bet every person in a shelter would take even the worst NYCHA housing over a shelter.

RR points to other cities around the world as examples but that may not be an apt comparison. Many other nations have an extensive safety net and in our version of vulture capitalism getting something done is problematical. Free marketers support landlord rights to make as much as they can get. We need better controls. Let’s focus on the real estate industry which controls politics in this city. How about putting a shelter in one of those luxury multi-story towers going up in Manhattan which are getting tax breaks? Anyone for a batch of shelters in the brand new Hudson Yards? Ooooh, the thought is so delicious. I would go to a rally for that.

What do we think about holding a rally led by Councilmember and future mayoral candidate Eric Ulrich at the home of the DHS commissioner? That’s entering dangerous territory. What if a group of anti-Amazon protesters decided they didn’t like Eric’s pro-Amazon position and turned up at his house? I was thinking about the connection. Did Eric ever considering asking Amazon for a shelter on their brand new property? Or that the housing pressure created by Amazon would have led to more people needing shelters? Politicians need to think things through and come up with solutions instead of playing the blame game. If anything, I could see a protest at the business of landlords profiting from these deals.

One argument against the shelter is that there are so many schools with thousands of students nearby. I was thinking about that as I drove by recently through a noxious odor from the waste treatment plants, also so close to the schools. Whose house do we go to protest that?

There are so many issues people are NOT leading protests against.

The local Democratic and Republican politicians certainly don’t seem to be offering very much other than NIMBY. Well, I gotta run. I’m heading off to a meeting of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) where maybe I can find some solutions on addressing the housing crisis through political activism.

Norm nimbly blogs about education and politics at


1 comment:

  1. While you are at that meeting, tell everyone that foster parents are required for a yearlong committment to house separated refugee children.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.