New York’s already-overburdened homeless shelter system is getting a dangerous stress test – with paroled state prisoners being funneled into a system that can barely help them.
In a devastating report that aired on Tuesday night, NY1’s Courtney Gross found that the number of parolees being sent to shelters is rapidly on the rise – with at least 4,000 prisoners who were paroled ending up in city shelters last year.
Looking for a parolee, Gross almost immediately found one. She follows Christopher Kaminski, who has done almost nine years behind bars for armed robbery and was still wearing his prison-issued clothes outside the Bellevue Men’s Shelter when he encountered our reporter on a chilly day.
Moving from shelter to shelter, Kaminski has little support and no prospects, eventually buying a $6 bag of heroin in a shelter in Crown Heights and looking like he’s heading toward a dark place.
While the Cuomo administration is quick to rip Mayor de Blasio’s City Hall for not doing more to combat homelessness, it’s unclear how state officials can explain away a policy that puts prisoners back into a revolving door of hopelessness after serving their time.
If we really want to help prisoners get back on their feet and not just check a box on a form, we have to more than just shove them into a shelter. Just ask Christopher Kaminski.