This evening, I was sitting on a bench with my boyfriend Justin down the street from where I live in Brooklyn. A man approached us and slowly introduced himself as Robert. He explained that he had needed to get back to 151st street in the Bronx and needed $11 for he and his wife to get some food and buy fare for the bus back. We were a little weary and unsure how to react to his request, but Robert was direct and spoke with intent, answering our questions: He had come to Brooklyn in response to a job passing out flyers for the nets game at Barclay's Center. There was a miscommunication and he and his wife, who was waiting a bit further down the street, had traveled the long distance to find that there was no game or job waiting for him. Justin went back to our apartment to get money for him (we did not have our wallets on us) and while we waited, Robert sat next to me and told me he has HIV and it is difficult for him to get work. At 151st street in the Bronx is a homeless shelter called PATH for families that provides a bed for him, his wife, and 7 month year old daughter. I asked if he has support for his medication and if he knows of Housing Works, and he said he has to pay for his medication himself and lives at PATH because of HASA, the HIV/AIDS Services Administration in New York.
I learned a lot more about the reality of homeless people living here in New York from Robert and was touched and humbled by this encounter. Government funding is vital for the many homeless shelters including PATH in addition to the social services administration. To learn more, please visit: PATH and HASA and consider Bill de Blasio's support for these necessary programs that help thousands of families who need help.