With homelessness one of the most pressing issues in the 2021 mayoral race, it’s more important than ever that those on the street have somewhere safe to sleep. Oftentimes, that means a non-profit shelter. Yet many of the private security officers who work at these shelters are paid so little they can barely afford health insurance – and are even in danger of homelessness themselves.
Now the New York City Council and Mayor Bill DeBlasio are moving to change this, committing 40.5 million dollars to ensure that these essential workers are paid fair, livable wages.
“For over 4,000 working families – their lives are going to change, this year,” said Mayor DeBlasio at a press conference this afternoon. A group of working people, each wearing union shirts, stood behind him. “You can’t ask someone to help solve one of the most challenging problems in society, but not give them enough to put food on their tables, or pay their rent, or take care of their families.”
His description was borne out by a number of speakers. Homeless shelters can be rife with violence; yet many security officers are paid minimum wage, barely enough to sustain an individual, let alone a family. “We cannot afford to live in the city we work,” said Shaquille Sheppard, a private shelter security officer who himself grew up in-and-out of shelters. “Private security jobs are poverty jobs.” Kyle Bragg, president of Local 32BJ, a chapter of the Service Employees International Union, substantiated this, saying that, “while helping the City’s most vulnerable, many of these workers struggle to afford things themselves,” and, “may even find themselves homeless.”
Mayor de Blasio, who promised to end the tale of two cities, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and his Democrat majority City Council Cronies waited 8 years to finally do something about the homeless crisis by finally allocate funding for a long overdue wage hike for security guards. Sure there’s nothing wrong with wanting to give the people more money especially when tasked to supervise the city’s notoriously violent and decrepit homeless shelters. But there are a bunch of conflicting problems with this.
First, why haven’t the non-profit providers of these city shelters who are already receiving city funding already gave these security guards the living wages they needed?