Why Full-Time City Workers Are Homeless

Angelo Torres sleeps in a truck, works for New York City
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2015 7:15 PM CDT
A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – Angelo Torres makes $33,662 a year cleaning up trash on a beach at Staten Island. Georgie Grier pulls in $33,600 as a New York City sanitation enforcement agent. Similar jobs, similar pay, same problem: They're among more than 300 full-time workers in the city who are homeless, the New York Post reports. "I cry every night thinking this isn’t really happening, but it is," says 45-year-old Torres, who lives in his 2001 Chevy Blazer. "Everyone’s like, 'Take a shower and wash your clothes!' They don’t know what is going on. It hurts a lot. I work for the city. I never thought this would happen to me."

The problem is the city's median rent, $2,690 a month, which workers like Torres and Grier can't afford. That leaves Torres living in his truck and Grier in a shelter where "there’s a lot of addicts," she says. "It’s very scary, and I am losing a lot of weight." So what ever happened to a decent municipal job? "A city job was always the gateway out of poverty," says Local 983 President Joseph Puleo, whose union oversees 3,000 city workers, "but those days are gone." The Post and Gothamist disagree about whether it's Mayor Bill de Blasio's fault, but the Gothamist concedes that "hopefully ... [he] will respond to the Post's criticism of underpaid municipal employees."

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