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Feature: Life for Homeless in New York gets really tough

By Christine Schiffner (Xinhua)

10:28, July 09, 2012

NEW YORK, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Every morning Richard Rondan loads his six kids into his taxi cab and goes on the hour-long trip from the far end of Brooklyn to the Bronx. He drops his children off at school and kindergarten and picks them up again in the late afternoon.

These trips cost him not only 20 U.S. dollar a day for gasoline, he also loses valuable time driving his taxi cab. However, Richard has no other choice because about two weeks ago, he and his family got evicted from their 2-bedroom apartment in the Bronx.
Now homeless, the New York City Department of Homeless Services placed them in a shelter in Brooklyn.

Richard is one of 43,000 homeless men, women and children, seeking shelter in New York every night.

"This record number includes 17,000 kids. These numbers are the highest they have ever been since the (New York) city started to keep track in the early 1980s," Giselle Routhier, a policy analyst from the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, explains.

In its recent State of the Homeless 2012 report, the organization added up the numbers of New Yorkers staying in emergency shelters throughout the city.

"It' s really, really tough," Richard says. "We all sleep in one room. We are not able to cook at the shelter. We just have to eat out all the time so we can' t save any money. And it' s really, really tough going back and forth from Brooklyn to the Bronx all the time."

Richard would like to take on night shifts to make a little bit of extra money, but that is not possible because the shelter rules include a curfew, and nobody can enter or leave the building overnight.

Like many other homeless families, Richard used to rely on rent subsidies paid by the city of New York. When the subsides were cut, Richard ended up being unable to pay the monthly rent of 1,300 U.S. dollars.

"Six kids, the rent plus money for light, gas, food. It was just very, very difficult and it' s not getting any better," he says with a desperate look on his face.

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