This is Part 1 of PIX11's revealing week-long series focusing on the new reality of homelessness across our region.
NEW YORK — "I was honestly thinking if something doesn't happen a miracle or something I am either going to end up either prostituting myself and that is not me because I am mentally stable or slitting my wrists. Yeah the thought has gone through my mind a thousand times."
For many, the only thing that homelessness houses are disturbing thoughts. This the reality for so many, once everything is lost. It is a state that pushes those who are new to homelessness, like Christine out of Bergen County, to the brink.
“I was dressed in a Versace top and the long black skirt with my hair up, make-up, jewelry, for an appointment. Trying to look my best and I thought about holding up a sign saying that, 'This is what homeless looks like.'"
It is challenging to work on life's goals when you are homeless, and for many, aside from finding a place to sleep, the most important thing is to not look the part. However, Sean Lance in Harlem provided us with the harsh reality that his life has become.
"I am no different than the man pushing the shopping cart”
For five nights PIX11 News reporters Jay Dow and Mario Diaz tackle the topic that many view as "third rail," few want to go near it.
Diaz and Dow began researching and reporting on this crisis more than a year ago, before it hit the headlines.
From the streets of Washington Heights, Manhattan to the shelter system of northern New Jersey and to the woods of Long Island, the duo worked with several members of PIX11 News award-winning unit of photographers to capture the visual essence of the stories - while mining the critical data on this, one of the most important issues of our time.
What they found is alarming: 20 percent of the homeless population in the city has full-time employment, 1 in 9 children in New York City schools are homeless (an average of 3 per classroom), and 1 in 10 veterans - are women; a number that is on the rise.* They will also break down numbers on the impact this is having on our future and how much it is costing taxpayers like you.
* Source: Institute for Children Poverty & Homelessness (www.icphusa.org) , 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress