Gimme Shelter

In her worst imaginings, Nancy B never foresaw she would be homeless at age 74. This mentally sharp, take-no-bull New Yorker says she cried when she had to go into this New York women's shelter, because she did not want to come here.

At an age when she should be, she is retired and trying to survive on Social Security. She has worked all her life at jobs ranging from factory work to waitressing, and now has health problems: emphysema, heart problems, arthritis, seizures.

A new owner bought the apartment house she'd been living in for years. This new landlord wanted the building for personal use, and when Nancy's lease ran out, she was pushed out--literally into the street. She's a native New Yorker, but she cannot afford the soaring rents anymore, so here she is-- in a Queens women's assessment shelter for 21 days. After 21 days, if you have not found permanent shelter, out you go. For now, she relies on her Catholic faith.

For senior citizen housing, she has been told the waiting list is five years. She doesn't need housing in five years, she says. She needs it today. Words fail me at this point, except to say this: the war on poverty begun in the 1960's has mutated into a twisted war on the poor-- the elderly poor, the working poor. Poor people of color and the so called (not my words) "poor white trash."
Without a doubt, we are a country at war. Not only against Iraq, but against our own people. The ones whose labor kept and continues to keep this economy running.

To the titans of Wall Street: "You're welcome."

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