And the verdict is...

And the verdict is...

June 24th, 2008: A coalition of homeless people and their allies, queers and straights, lined the streets in front of Gracie Mansion. Inside, Mayor Bloomberg welcomed LGBT constituents for a dinner and a reception. On the streets, Nikita Price, an organizer with Picture the Homeless, led us in raucous chants so loud they could be heard even behind the mansion:

“Homeless People, Straight and Gay!
We Need Housing Right Away!”

What could an LGBT dinner possibly have to do with the homelessness crisis in our city? Well, for starters, the day of the dinner, June 24th, 2008, was also the four-year anniversary of Bloomberg’s Five-Year Plan on Homelessness. In 2004, he had promised that his policies of privatization would drastically reduce homelessness in New York City within five years. But on this, the four-year mark of his program, the number of homeless people remains extremely high . In fact, shelters are so full—approximately 34,000 people a night at last count—they’re turning people away.

Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group comprised of homeless people and their allies, called for a day of action on June 24th, which included a “trial” of Bloomberg and his policies. At the last minute, PTH learned of the LGBT dinner and joined forces with the Radical Homosexual Agenda to deliver the guilty verdict to the Mayor at his doorstep.

We hoisted a banner into the air that depicted a raised fist with a wrist made of a building. Beside it, the message: “Hey Bloomberg! Your Homelessness Plan Is A Five-Year Sham!”

Perhaps, though, one of Nikita’s more whimisical chants said it best:
“His Homeless Policies Are So Wack!
Bloomberg Must Be Smoking Crack!”

Security turned our queer delegates back from the entrance to Gracie Mansion and from what likely would have been an enjoyable meal. Then the NYPD fumbled with some riot shields and surrounded us with barricades.

Mayor Mike! This is simply no way to treat your guests! But really, how perfectly appropriate, given his track record.

“$3 billion and four years later, we know that what Mayor Bloomberg is doing isn’t working,” said Lynn Lewis, Director for Picture the Homeless. “What we don’t know is is why, after repeated requests, the mayor still refuses to meet with us, with the communities most affected, to hear our solutions to this crisis.”

It wasn’t so long ago when city leaders wouldn’t have been caught dead in a room with out queer people, let alone listen as they discuss our solutions to various community problems. It’s unfortunate our mayor still seems to feel that way about people, queer or straight, who need homes.

Mayor Bloomberg could learn a lot from Picture the Homeless if he sat down to talk with them. Recently, PTH worked with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to conduct a survey of the city—they found that there are more than enough empty buildings to house each and every homeless person in New York. PTH advocates not only opening these buildings for housing, but also shifting Department of Homeless Service budgets from shelters to rent assistance.

Photos of the action:

Additional info, future actions and additional ways you can help protect people against homelessness: (services for homeless queer youth)

Happy Pride all. And see you in the streets Sunday.

Radical Homosexual Agenda