YouTuber Louis Rossmann shows viewers New York City's newest innovation to solve the homelessness crisis: painful heating vents.
In a video uploaded to YouTube on September 13, user Louis Rossmann displays newly-installed "homeless-proof" vents in a borough of New York City. While the tone of the video is largely sarcastic, praising the city municipality for a job supposedly "well done," the YouTuber points towards a growing problem in larger cities. Instead of focusing on efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce rates of homelessness, local city officials have directed funds towards installations that make it difficult for homeless communities to survive on the street. This includes uncomfortable heating vents and public seating. In his video, Rossmann urges his city municipality to ensure homeless folks do not simply die on the streets.
His video primarily highlights New York City's underground heating and vent system. Previously, ventilation for the underground subway was ensured through grates installed on sidewalks across the city. This meant, as city officials discovered, homeless folks would take to the grates on cold nights as they provided ample heating. Unfortunately, in order to "solve" the problem of homelessness, officials decided to replace the grates with raised "compartments." These compartments are shaped like waves, varying in level and dotted with sharp metal in random spots to make sleeping on them a painful experience.
"New York City is paying $3,500 to $4,500 a month to a quote, unquote 'charity' [Andrew] Cuomo had started 25 years ago... What they do is they put this stuff over [the grates] so that it is actually painful, so you can't lie down on this to sleep," Rossmann explains. "Not only is it a metal grate, but it also sticks up in certain sections so that if somebody were to lie down on this, they would actually feel physical pain." In a sarcastic tone, the YouTuber goes on to say he is "confident" that this innovation would "totally fix the homeless problem in New York City." He states, "All you got to do is put these grates on top of here so that if someone tries to sleep somewhere where they will be warm and not die, they won't be able to. So, good job, New York City. Great job as always. The $70 to $90 million budget that we have per year at work!"
According to Rossmann, the rising rates of homelessness in New York City can be attributed to several factors, including mental illness and the fact that a "sh*tty studio apartment can cost upwards of $2,200." As winter sets in, following another year of the ongoing pandemic, it is likely that homeless folks will be looking for safe and warm places to shelter. In light of this, such ignorant quick fixes to homelessness are inhumane and only leave those most at risk of harm even worse off. If you would like to support better resources to help your city's homeless community, you can write in to your local authorities or representatives. You can also make a donation to the Coalition for the Homeless here.