For too long Queens has been the city’s escape plan for the homeless. In the past, rather than dealing with the depressing state of homelessness, and mental health issues, the answer has been to stuff these unfortunate souls into shelters tucked deep into our minority and low-income communities. As a result, vagrancy has been on the rise in the neighborhoods that need it the least.
Now don’t get us wrong. Homeless shelters play a very important role in helping those less fortunate in our community. Everyone deserves a chance to gain footing and make the best of their lives. Second chances are sometimes all that’s needed to get someone on the right track in the long term. But at some point we must put our foot down and say enough is enough. We can not let Queens continue to be New York City’s dumping ground.
While the issue has often been neglected, let us not be tricked into thinking this isn’t a problem we all face. Even if it seems to be contained to the often neglected Southeast Queens area, with Jamaica taking on the brunt of this burden, it still affects us all as a community, as a borough and as a city.
We are glad to see our Mayor doing something about the mental issue and homelessness. The Safe NYC initiative is one that the Tribune stands behind and hopes it makes a great impact. We will follow closely and keep our fingers crossed that it will not only help our community march towards prosperity, closing financial and societal gaps among its residents, but that it genuinely helps those who desperately need it in both our communities here in Queens and across all five boroughs.