US Catholic Faith in Real Life

A compelling look at the face of homelessness today

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Today the New York Times offers a unique look at the face of homelessness in our country today. In a five-part series, we follow the daily life of an 11-year-old girl named Dasani, who lives in a shelter with her family, one of more than 22,000 homeless children who live within New York City.

The article details the growing wealth gap within the city, including the gentrification of the neighborhood where Dasani’s shelter is located—mere blocks from her neighborhood, penthouses sell for more than $1 million. 

The piece is long, but definitely worth the undertaking. One brief excerpt:

The skyline soars with luxury towers, beacons of a new gilded age. More than 200 miles of fresh bike lanes connect commuters to high-tech jobs, passing through upgraded parks and avant-garde projects like the High Line and Jane’s Carousel. Posh retail has spread from its Manhattan roots to the city’s other boroughs. These are the crown jewels of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s long reign, which began just seven months after Dasani was born.

In the shadows of this renewal, it is Dasani’s population who have been left behind. The ranks of the poor have risen, with almost half of New Yorkers living near or below the poverty line. Their traditional anchors — affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage — have weakened as the city reorders itself around the whims of the wealthy.

It’s an important read, especially as today Pope Francis reminds us to “never be left indifferent to the cries of the poor.”