Maria Gonzalez is from Tachira, Venezuela. He arrived in New York from Texas a month ago by bus like many others with 4 children and a grandchild.
“What’s the food, the accommodation, the treatment, the advice, everything,” Maria said.
He was kept in a shelter hotel and no complaint has been received so far.
“Well done hotel, they’ve treated us very well, excellent.”
But across the street from where Maria is queuing to receive documents allowing her to work for the American dream, a group of 39 New Yorkers, including the homeless and the non-homeless, huddled together in central Manhattan’s Foley Square Park where they said they felt they were not equally important to the city.
“They come across the border, people fight and they keep them in a hotel. We had to go through paperwork to get them to put us in a hotel,” said Dinick Martinez, a homeless New Yorker.
Represented by the Urban Justice Center Law Group, these individuals filed a lawsuit against the city alleging that they were forcibly and violently removed from hotel shelters by housing officials last year.
The lawsuit argues that due to the sudden removal, confiscation and loss of personal possessions at the shelters, they lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of clothing, valuables and family mementos.
Martinez is seeking help, fair treatment and one of the approximately 90,000 vacant units that now exist.
“Going from ‘shelter’ to ‘shelter’ is already tiring, boring,” Martinez said.
Demonstrations and legal action followed hours after Mayor Eric Adams announced to much fanfare that he had amended the Big Apple’s homeless housing laws to provide them with homes without having to go through the crumbling shelter system.
Adams said Monday that the measure would immediately help 1,400 families move to higher-income communities. He wants to eliminate shelters where possible and move those living on the streets directly into housing.
“What I want is for future generations of the homeless to be a little easier. They should be treated humanely,” Martinez said.
To ease the low-cost housing crisis, the mayor started a financing program, rooms for $50 a month, application fees included, among others. This is not enough for new arrivals and others are forgotten.
And this group of plaintiffs will also argue in court that they lost jobs and suffered mental and emotional harm after being illegally displaced, a practice they say continues.