1/4 of New York City’s Homeless People Come for the Free Stuff

Social welfare is a magnet. Extend it, and they will come. Extend it carelessly and they will really come.

“People pay $3,000 for an apartment here, and I get to live here for free!” said Michal Jablonowski, 25, who moved back to the city from his native Poland three years ago and is now staying in a Bowery shelter.

“I have food. I have health care. It’s great,’’ Jablonowski said. “Here, the city supports you. The city helps you with everything.’’

Nearly one in four of the city’s single homeless people who entered the system in December 2012 listed their last address as outside the city.

“We get breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have a microwave and TV. They do the laundry for free,” noted Jablonowski, who lived in New York for years before going back to his homeland, only to return here to a freebie life.

Jablonowski said he even gets a prepaid cellphone — allowing 1,000 texts and 300 minutes a month — through Medicaid and boasted, “I’m going to get my teeth fixed.”

“I love New York because you cannot starve in New York, you can always find food and clothes,” he said.

“The shelters are really nice. You have clean sheets. You get to watch TV and stay in the warm. Homeless people have it so good, they don’t want to look for a job.’’

This isn’t unique to New York City. The problem is ubiquitous to most major cities in developed nations. Social welfare acts as a magnet for parasites who aren’t part of a social safety net, but are exploiting it.

As a New Yorker, I’ve seen a shift away from the classic urban homeless person to young white men who are from out of state or even out of the country soliciting for cash. Some of this increased with the Occupy Wall Street influx, but it predated it. I never had a very good explanation for the gentrification of homelessness, but this just might be it.

Taxpayers shell out $3,000 a month to feed, house and provide other services to each homeless person. The average stay in a city shelter is as long as nine months — although there’s no limit.

“Some people in here have it better than people working 9 to 5, because they’re not paying rent. I’ve stayed in hostels worse. I call this four stars,” said William Sullivan, who came to the city from LA for a job that fell through.

“Everyone in this place has a silver spoon in their mouth. You get fed three to four meals a day, and the food here is great.”

A Michigan woman who arrived in December said she was drawn to New York for the “adventure.”

“New York is New York! That’s why people come here,” said Amy Kaufman, 41, who is staying in a city-funded Chelsea shelter. “I go to the library, and I go sightseeing a lot in Times Square and Chelsea. I like it here.  I’m staying here for a while because the housing options are better. Michigan is in a recession right now.”

New York City. Come for the adventure. Stay for the deluxe homeless shelters.

  • john spielman

    WOW where does New York city get the money for this? Is Bloomberg paying for this out of his own pocket? all other US cities should give their homeless people a one way bus ticket to NYC.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      New York City has some money, but it's going into debt.

  • Michael Copeland

    This is the complaint made by ecologists about riverside power stations which return their cooling water at a slightly higher temperature: it alters the local ecology.
    A new source of nutrients will attract life forms that were not there before.

  • N R Cisi

    As an inexpensive vacation option, try taking a bus to New York City and moving into a shelter for a few weeks. Try the Atlantic Avenue Armory in Brooklyn. Since a lot of the inmates are violent, crazy, or have interesting diseases, you won't need to spend any money on entertainment — just keep your eyes open and your head down. I believe they give meal tickets to the best greasy spoons. Be sure to put your shoes under your pillow when you go to sleep on your cot unless you enjoy walking the pavements in bare feet. You'll return to Dogpatch with many a tale to tell (assuming you survive.)

  • g_jochnowitz

    There aren't enough homeless people spending the night sleeping on the sidewalk. We need more.

    If you're hurt in an accident, taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for an ambulance. You should be signed up with your own rescue service to take you to the hospital.

    If your house is on fire, taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for firefighters to extinguish the fire. You should be signed up with your own private fire company.

    After all, what's more important–saving lives or lowering taxes?

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "If you're hurt in an accident, taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for an ambulance. You should be signed up with your own rescue service to take you to the hospital."

      They already do pay. Where do you live and get free ambulance when you are able to pay?

      "If your house is on fire, taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for firefighters to extinguish the fire. You should be signed up with your own private fire company. "

      That's an option. Or it can be paid through local property taxes. It's up to the local voters.

      "After all, what's more important–saving lives or lowering taxes?"

      Raising taxes kills people. Now what?

  • Brujo Blanco

    I have dealt with the homeless and met some that simply do not want anyone telling them what to do. They would rather sleep outdoors than in a place that has rules. Many of them have substance abuse problems. They need help and should be pushed towards employment.

  • Redcrow

    Many are frankly psychotic and should be placed involuntarily into long term mental institutions.

    • LINO

      Yay, freedom!

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Whenever freebies are offered there will be scores who run to cash in. While some are simply incapable of working, others – not so much.
    In fact, leftist dementia encourages such an underclass, as it ties them to the system and this serves the power brokers well. In other words, those who are completely dependent will do whatever it takes to get the goods, therefore, they are a reliable base, for this or that.
    NYC is run by Demsters, regardless of Nanny Bloomberg's RINO garb. As such, he is destroying every vestige of cache which NYC had. Radical revolutionaries are incapable of protecting majority interests – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/07/01/leftist-dogma

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Linda P

    As a subway riding New Yorker, I feel great disgust whenever (and it is very often) someone comes into my subway car and loudly tells a tale of woe about how he/she is homeless and needs money to (fill in the blank, usually "to get some food"). You would not believe how many people give up dollar bills to these beggars.