tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera February 13, 2016 7:00am-7:31am EST
new york new york 8.4 million people call the city home. >> it's snowing hard in central park and 20 in midtown and snowfall one to two feet and saying we could have snow hour. >> the coldest winter in 81 years and coincides with a grim reality. more people in new york city are homeless today than at any point since the 1930s. floors. >> it's really difficult once you find ways to just get
through day-to-day from finding clothing to finding shelter to finding where you will eat. >> today it's hectic because of the snow outside and not a places for us to sleep now and everybody is kind of coming in. >> in just a decade the number of people living in new york's homeless shelters has nearly doubled and reaching 60,000 a night last year. it's a homelessness crisis unprecedented in any city. >> what we see today, the homeless that we see, the exodus from this city, families doubling, tripling up, the rent sky rocketing, this has been a crisis that has been cooking for 20 years. >> why are so many in new york homeless? this week fault lines looks at the forces that are displacing thousands from their homes. ♪
we are on our way to the south bronx to new york's intake center for homeless families, more than 70% of the people in the city shelters are families with children. >> homelessness is so complicated. it's not just a guy the street with that shopping cart and it isn't just this one person who luck. >> to apply for shelter a family must first come to this building known as pack, journalists are not allowed inside. >> we have been here just a few hours and there have been dozens of families coming in. it has been really shocking. a lot of young children and working parents trying to make it. what is it like in there? >> it's not what people think. everyday people. >> i don't judge people because you never know the situation you
are in. >> my salary i get paid $9 so you do the math. center? shelters. >> is this your first time in the shelter system? >> yes. >> what is this guy's name? >> josaia. days? >> you come in and they put you on a ten-day placement and okay you are denied or approved. >> if you are denied? >> if you are denied you have to come back and do the process all over again. >> this is what you are now? >> for the third time. >> new york city has an obligation to provide shelter to all individuals who are homeless and because of that tradition new york city has the largest public shelter system in the united states. homeless. >> the cost of shelter is
exorbitant and spends a million in shelter and emergency services for homeless people. >> new york operates 250 homeless shelters but still half of the families who apply for shelter are rejected. >> the city has put in place these kind of bureaucratic barriers that wrongfully and unlawfully deny shelter to many needy families. >> come in and help me with your brother. >> reporter: we met melissa who is 25 and has three kids. >> i go there every single day and i come home. come here. come sit by mommy. my minimi me and she looks just like me. >> these kids mean everything to you, huh? >> yes, they are my life. i love them dearly. my babies. >> reporter: melissa has been homeless for three years and she and her kids now sleep in the
living room of her grandmother's public housing unit. >> i have this couch and bring it together with that one and put the blankets on there. >> you all sleep right here. >> me and my two daughters and my son right here. we sleep. >> new york child services agency told melissa she is endangering her kids by keeping them here. >> how does your grandmother feel about you living here in her living room? >> she hates it. >> the city denied her shelter application seven times and melissa works as a door to door sales woman and only makes $700 a month. streets? >> not with my kids thank god and i have on my own when i was 16 and i don't want that life for them so
just thinking about that they could be in the situation that i was in before , knowing that i'm by myself is a lot of things that i would love to have but it's so expensive, i don't make enough to get any of those things. a lot of rich people here. they want to make the city for people who can afford things and forget about people who cannot afford it, they will just have it. >> reporter: one in five new yorkers lives below the federal poverty life. meanwhile housing costs continue to soar. median rents have risen by 5% and income has dropped by 7%. she has lived in new york her whole life and for over a year she and her kids have been forced to live in shelter.
>> when it came down to the ending of my lease, that was a prime opportunity for the landlord to say okay we don't way. >> she depended on a state program to help her pay the rent, when her landlord raised the price she was evicted. >> he wanted higher rent. $2200. >> yes. >> could you afford that? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: she is looking for an apartment she can afford. it's a search that has taken her far outside the city, an hour and a half bus ride to middle town new york. we met her in middle town but the broker who agreed to show her around cancelled. so i just really in a really bad emotional place right now, not feeling the greatest. i feel like it was just a waste of time. >> reporter: to salvage the trip she decided to look anyway. what is it like doing a search
in the shelter is it hard? >> when you are in a shelter it's double hard and i would rather come out and take a look and do what i need to do to get my family out of the circumstance opposed to sitting there and not doing anything. here? >> no. >> you don't know? >> i don't know yet. here? >> no, not at all. >> do you have a lot of friends and family in new york? >> in the city, yeah, absolutely, that is where i grew up at so i know my areas. >> do you feel like you have been forced to leave the city? >> with the rent, with the rent as high as they are, yes. middle class people in the city are not being really catered to and bussing their behind working everyday constantly to the point where, you know, they are not even sleeping, you know.
rent is so high they can't afford it. the mayor michael bloomberg the city lost a third of apartments families. >> what we see now are effects of 20 years of housing policy, 20 years of people little by little being pushed out. no attempt to house these human beings. >> and homelessness, the number is rising everyday. >> homelessness right here. >> they are getting pushed out of state. >> new york city under the bloomberg administration eliminated entirely the permanent housing programs which were designed to help homeless families and children leave the shelter system. >> under bloomberg the number of people in homeless shelters each 54,000. >> essentially what we have it was a massive social experiment
that if you take away permanent housing assistance from the needy children and families in the city what will happen? >> no good jobs. >> everyday in this city people are losing their homes, if we do not act, new york risks taking community. >> mayor bill deblasio was elected in 2013 on a promise to reverse new york's growing economic inequality. >> the city has for decades let developers write their rules with housing and it's taking a approach. >> reporter: vowed to create and preserve 200,000 affordable units and his plan relies on tax . >> if you are a developer, if you set aside 20% of those units for low-income folks, the city
will give you tax property. >> reporter: robert robinson is an advocate who was formally homeless. >> i would challenge deblasia and say it's no different than bloomberg, 80 per market rate and the more you create housing like that you are saturating the market with market-rate housing. developers in the city want to profit as much as they can and their heart is not into building houses for poor people, that is not their goal, their goal is to get market-rate rents. >> reporter: new york's largest existing stock of affordable housing is the one million apartments that are rent regulated under state law. but the trend is clear, since the early 80s nearly 20% of these have been converted to market rate. >> hi. >> reporter: she has lived in a rent stabilized apartment in the
bronx since 1988. by law her landlord can only raise her rent a small percentage each year but if she moves out he can raise the rent 20%. >> the area is going through this and that is no secret. the writing is on the wall, if you can get these buildings from being rent stabilized then you can charge $2500 a month, $3,000 a month eventually. >> she never missed a rent payment but six months ago she received an eviction order from her landlord. >> the most helpless feeling i ever experienced really. >> what was your biggest fear at that moment? >> being homeless and you don't think rationally when -- you don't think rationally when you think you're going to lose your . >> reporter: the number one cause of family homelessness in new york is eviction. in 2012 more than one-third of
family whose applied for shelter had recently been evicted. >> 33,000 who have been evicted in new york city in the last two years. 33,000 families? >> reporter: her building has 50 code violations. >> the apartment was full of lead. there were like holes in the walls. the bathroom ceiling almost collapsed. this will probably fall down at any minute. >> reporter: last spring she asked for repairs, one day a bathroom. >> my daughter came in, i recorded her and she is like what is this? >> taking a bath. >> i don't know . >> i'm angry. >> it makes you angry? >> yes. >> why? >> because it's ruined. >> it's really ruined. >> hopefully the landlord will fix it, right. we didn't have a bathroom for over a month and packing our bags every night to find somewhere to bathe.
it's frustrating because my rent is paid. >> owners are not viewed favorably by neighborhood. i think we are probably somewhere on the bottom next to real estate agents or bankers. >> reporter: joseph straussberg is the president of the rent stablezation association, a lobby group for landlord. >> every economist will tell you work. >> explain this to me, you call the rent stabilization association and you are opposed to rent stabilization. >> that is right, the government requires so many rules and regulations they impose on owners and many of them are small property owners and not very sophisticated. >> with all these regulations there is still this constant full of people who are getting evicted and i'm just wondering what you would say to a homeless family that was evicted out of a rent stabilized building. >> if they are paying the rent how do they get evicted? >> just in the past month we met so many families. >> if they have been paying
their rent there is no way they could be evicted. if they were evicted it was done illegally but owners, they are not in the business of providing social services, that is the government's responsibility. >> everyday we read stories about repairs not being done, people being harassed, they don't get heat, they don't get hot water. this doesn't just happen. it's a system and it's done systematically. there are ways to legally push
crown heights brooklyn, more families from this neighborhood have entered the shelter system than from any other in new york. >> i've been here a long time and i'm a senior and i listen to some of the rents some of these people are paying, i can't afford that. >> i heard about them. >> reporter: we are at a meeting called by people who live in the building. >> i could be homeless too, any of us could have a situation where something happens and we lose money and your apartment, any one of us could find ourselves without our home. >> reporter: the home is rent stabilized but keisha was the last paying tenant to move in. >> people are saying this drastically. >> reporter: she started to notice bunk beds being moved in the building and she asked the supervisor what was happening. >> it's for the people. and i said what people, for the shelter people. >> reporter: they were turning
the building into a type of a shelter known as a cluster site that houses families. >> they are housing families in building. >> reporter: the city created cluster sites over a decade ago as homelessness grow mayor bloomberg increasingly paid landlords for shelter. >> the folks who own this building are really making lots so. >> reporter: her landlord is a prominent real estate family called the padalstia sn own about 40 cluster shelter, since 2010 the city has paid them over $90 million to house homeless families, four of their shelters are in keisha's neighborhood. >> this is pretty typical, door wide open, broken into and broken mailboxes. [knocking] my building is own by the same people who own this building and we are trying to improve the conditions in the building that he owns.
this guy thinks that because the families are homeless they have no power and just because a family is in crisis doesn't mean you should be making millions of dollars off of me. >> the cost of living has sky rocketed do you know what i mean and i have to pay utilities and i have two kids and i have to food. do you know how much the city pays for that? >> our budget letter shows that which is basically like what they pay for our rent, pretty much like the break down. >> the money that is used and public assistance is paying for us to stay here that can be live. >> i'm sure you know how much the city is paying to house families in crisis. >> yeah. >> reporter: this is ryan and ten months ago she and her family applied for shelter, the apartment. >> so what is this? >> the budget letter. >> reporter: every month she receive as budget letter from the city.
is this how much money the city is paying your landlord? >> for this apartment. >> yes. >> $2700. >> 27, 3750 and that is a lot of money, do you think the apartment is worth it? >> no way. 115 open code violations. that is an average of five violations per unit. she says she has asked for repairs but she is still waiting. >> the windows ain't fixed. the light don't come on. the socket in the kitchen is not even coming on. >> right now about a quarter of all homeless families with children each night are sleeping in these cluster site shelters essentially and sleeping in an apartment and we the taxpayers are paying a ridiculous amount of money for that. what would you do if the city gave you that much money? >> get a better apartment. if they are paying 27 for me to stay here then they might as
apartment. >> you any other tenants in the building are paying $2700? >> no. >> how much do you think they are paying? >> less than that and i don't think 27. i want folks to understand if it wasn't for this program that because this apartment is rent stabilized you could possibly just afford to be living here. >> wait a minute, paying tenants in the building the average rent is $900. >> right. $3,000? >> yes. >> for the same apartments? >> yes. >> it seems so ridiculous that you would remove affordable housing stock from working families to house people in crisis and then turn a profit. why are people looking for a shelter elsewhere when they are already in a dwelling that is rent stabilized, it doesn't make any sense to me. >> when mayor deblasio was elected he promised to phaseout
cluster sites but in the last year his administration has actually added 225 cluster units. >> we are facing high numbers and we have to ensure that everyone is safely placed. >> she is a deputy commissioner of new york's department of homeless services, it's the agency that over sea sees the city shelters. tell me about the cluster site shelters and it seems like the city is paying private landlords quite a bit of money. >> i disagree with that and we worked the last year and a half since the administration first came into office to reduce our reliance on clusters. >> last year the city actually increased the number of cluster units by 8%. it. >> what do you mean by that? >> focusing on purpose built shelters that have more robust children. >> a lot of families we have
spoken to and seen the letters and the landlord is getting paid $2700 and there are people in the building paying rents of $900-$1,000. >> the letters include social services and after care components so it's not something we a paying the landlord that amount of money. that is something that is out there that is not true. >> how much off that $3,000 or whatever the amount is ends up going to the lard -- landlord? >> there is a formula and i don't want to discuss that. >> there are five violations for unit and what is dhs doing about violations. >> we work with sister agencies and providers to make sure they get fixed. >> the families were concerned. >> moving on. >> this last question. >> we are moving on. >> they created a situation where they can't sort of back out of this program. they need it because they need
to have housing for homeless people but they have privatized it so once you do that you know you have made a deal with the devil now. >> we don't need any more buildings turning into shelters. we need housing. >> reporter: it's been two months since we met ms. little and still living in a shelter and looking for an apartment she can afford. >> you have to come up with your own scenarios. >> yes. >> as far as how you're going to get yourself out of this situation because you really don't have much support. i really don't think they put much effort into understanding what this crisis is. i think that they are throwing money at it, that is where all the shelters are coming up, from because they are constantly throwing money at things but they are really not getting into what the problem is and dealing with the issue. >> you can keep finding places
to warehouse bodies and it doesn't end the problem, it doesn't work towards a solution that might end the problem. >> reporter: in 2014 the overall number of families in shelter rose by 13%. >> money is being made. it is just like the homeless population might as well be traded on the stock market. how much of the home less is it worth and what we know about in this city and this country is something is really costing you