What R We Becoming?

Here's a newsflash: I am not sending anthrax through the mail, nor do I ever intend to! I think people who deliberately put honest working folks in mortal danger should be shot, whether they're negligent coal mine owners or morons who like to send poison through the mail.

In New York City, I'm told it's impossible to rent a P.O. box unless you have a permanent New York address. Am I the only one who finds that ludicrous? As I pointed out to the courteous postal clerk, if I had a permanent address here in the Big Apple, I would get my mail there, and I wouldn't need to rent a P.O. box. The postal service requires identification to rent a hard-to-find mail box. OK, that's reasonable. I have a social security card (I was born and raised in New York state) a Florida driver license (because that's where I have been living--and driving-- the past twelve years), a receipt from the YMCA in Brooklyn where I've been staying while looking (fruitlessly) for an apartment, a NYC Gold's gym membership card, a Brooklyn public library card...I could throw in my birth certificate--also from New York--but none of that is good enough.

Here's an idea: take my photo and a thumbprint and rent me a P.O. Box so I have a reliable place to get my mail forwarded to....no, the YMCA is not reliable, because I don't LIVE there.

Actually, even people who live here don't really live here, but are on shaky ground, given the recent Daily News articles.

According to one story in yesterday's News, low income women who have been living for years in two Salvation Army owned SRO's in Manhattan are being pressured to get out so the Army can sell the million dollar real estate for a profit. I can't count how many times I've dropped dollars and change into those Salvation Army kettles outside Florida supermarkets. Now it turns out the Army is another ruthless New York slumlord. Shame on you, Salvation Army!

And in Queens, an elderly man was told to get out of the apartment he's lived in for twenty or thirty years --by Monday-- so the owner could sell for a profit.

In fairness, it's not just New York that playing monopoly with peoples' homes--and lives. It's happening in Florida too. It's just that it's more in yer face in New York. Traveling by subway throughout the city, I've passed countless people sleeping on subway stairs and platforms, or standing in the cold, or sitting on the sidewalks with an empty coffee cup asking for a little help.

And New Yorkers do help. In general, New Yorkers are a compassionate bunch. I see evidence of this all the time. But it's not enough. A friend told me about her time spent living in Germany some years back. She said people were given small apartments in exchange for doing work for the city, such as street cleaning, for example.

There's an old saying, hokey as it sounds: Where's there's a will, there's a way."
Do we --our government, the American people-- have the collective will to put every person into decent, affordable, permanent homes that are off limits to the whims of greedy landlords? What would Jesus say?

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