A housing liason gathered all the newcomers in a room to give us the rundown. We had four options: join Ready Willing and Able’s program, which prepared men to become street sweepers and janitors; sign up for a Bloomberg administration program which presents participants with a one-way ticket out of town, so long as the applicants could provide a contact person in the destination city who would agree to host them; enter the city’s shelter system, which the liaison accurately portrayed as a horror show, with gang-and-drug-infested death traps like Wards Island (Said one of my brethren, “Yo, I was at Wards Island one night, woke up and a dude was laying there dead, all cut the fuck up.”); or hop in the van with him to tour Brooklyn’s three-quarter sober houses, which were private residences that sounded a lot more promising than a shelter.
I opted for the last one, and ended up staying at a three-quarter house in East New York, Brooklyn for seven months, until the economic crisis that fall brought in a whole new influx of desperate homeless. Then, suddenly, our utopia on the first floor was disrupted by violent, mentally ill housemates and a rodent problem that I tried in vain to solve with traps and an adopted cat.
Steven Boone making us feel incredibly lucky to have him writing for us at Capital New York ——>