Friday, January 27, 2023

Widow in shelter says she was threatened with eviction after her partner committed suicide

NEW YORK — Last week, a Venezuelan asylum seeker committed suicide at a Queens shelter, shortly after authorities confiscated a motorcycle he had bought to make deliveries and generate income.

John Ortega’s partner, shocked to find her body in the bathroom, took their 3-year-old daughter and went to sleep in a friend’s room at the shelter.

She says she was later threatened with eviction for violating shelter rules that required her and her daughter to sleep in their assigned rooms.

“I don’t have the strength to be alone. I can’t,” she told our sister network NBC 4 New York.

,[El personal] He told me I had to go back to the room I was assigned and I said, ‘No, I can’t sleep alone.’ I didn’t want to,” he said.[Dijeron] what if he doesn’t come back [a mi habitación]They were about to throw me out of the hostel. I told him, ‘Then throw me out, I am not going to sleep alone’.

In an interview with NBC 4 Tuesday afternoon, the widow, Marylees Martinez, recounted her harrowing experience.

shelter in distress

As of last Thursday, about 65,000 people were in shelters in the city, a 42% increase from the same period last year.

The city attributes the increase to an influx of immigrants from border states sent here by those states’ governors; Homeless advocates say the situation is more complex and includes the impact of rising evictions and the strain on social services.

Mayor Eric Adams warned that the situation could soon worsen significantly, as a possible end to federal border policy means many more immigrants could end up crossing and eventually being delivered here. Some, like Ortega, eventually found work, in his case buying a motorcycle to make deliveries, even though he didn’t have a driver’s license.

In a statement Monday, the city’s Department of Social Services called last week’s suicide an “absolutely heartbreaking tragedy” and said it was working with the family.

“These families are coming to New York City after months of difficult travel, in some cases still reeling from the trauma they experienced along the way. We recognize the unique challenges facing asylum seekers and will continue our efforts to We are committed to continued and interagency coordination to connect these families and individuals with mental health support as we help them stabilize their lives in a new country,” the statement read.

A department spokesman said Tuesday that the department cannot discuss individual matters and that Monday’s statement stands.

Martinez and her daughter are still reeling from the horrific incident. However, Ortega’s widow told NBC 4 that he has never met a social worker in the four months since his arrival in the United States, and that the city has not provided counseling that it promised Ortega would. will start the day after the body is found.

“He told my friend, because I was depressed [después de encontrar el cuerpo del esposo], that the next day they were going to see my daughter to a psychologist. I’m still waiting for you… and same for me. My brother-in-law, same thing. We’re all waiting,” Martinez said, adding that she thinks she needs professional help.

Martinez said, “I need to talk, get this off my chest. I need to know what he said in the letter he left me.”

The traumatic experience has also affected Martinez’s young daughter.

“Last night – I think she dreamed of her father – and he told me she’s going to die. They’re taking her away in an ambulance, but she’s going to die,” Martinez said through tears. Said.

And things aren’t getting better for others, either: Former City Council President Christine Quinn testified Tuesday at a council hearing on the mental health crisis that a resident of one of the shelters she now runs has had also attempted suicide last week. ,

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Nation World News Desk
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