[Last night a kindly restaurant owner called at Jean’s request to ask whether she could stay with us.  I told him no and explained that we had known Jean since a daughter as a teen nearly two decades ago had met her while working at a summer job in Central Park.  Jean is, we  believe, a college grad, who has been diagnosed as being mentally ill.  She wanders the streets of NYC from Manhattan to Brooklyn where she will drop in occasionally where she has met people and ask for help.  We tried but finally gave up as we found Jean to be an angry person who harassed those who tried to help her.  Catholic priests in Brooklyn finally brought charges against her and had her arrested.  We tried to figure a way to get her into some sort of permanent shelter, but were told that her anger would defeat that effort.  She is a social outcast who may find occasional refuge in a shelter when the weather is cold as it is now.  She had a mother who is probably deceased now and some other relatives in the city.

We used to put such people in mental hospitals.  Now prisons are the only alternative and a good percentage of those in prison are mentally ill and terribly vulnerable there.  Possibly with the new medications Jean might be able to function well enough to have a positive assignment, but she resists the notion that she is mentally ill — or did when she first came to us for help.  To my knowledge Jean is not dangerous.  She can be a nuisance — waking those Catholic priests up in the wee hours and demanding a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and mayo or sending us innumerable magazine subscriptions, using mail in forms with prepaid postage.

I think of Jean and feel badly each time we turn her away.  She is a survivor so far and always on the move.  Would that the gods would care for her.  The kindly restaurant owner said he gives her meals.  Ed Kent]


Counting the Homeless to Help End Their Plight
New Haven is one of about 325 cities and counties around
the nation that have recently devised ambitious 10-year
plans not just to reduce homelessness, but to end it.


“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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