I didn’t know Stephen’s name until after he had died. He always sat on the chairs near the Elephant Playground on the UWS of Manhattan. We walked past him often as it is a favourite playground of my children. I think I noticed him because he always looked so sad and I was struck by how young he was. I often thought about bringing him food, giving him money but I never made the time to do it. Next time, I’ll bring him a sandwich. Next time I’ll bring him a coffee. I was so shocked when I saw a sign on the seat where he always sat, asking if anyone had any more information about who he was, because he had died. It seemed many people had noticed the sad, young man on the park bench and didn’t want him to die anonymously.
Homeless people are a much rarer sight in Australia than they are in New York City. I am a social worker so I am aware of the support and services available to homeless people in Australia. To try and make myself feel better about having done nothing for Stephen, I wanted to see what I could have done for him. After my internet search and without getting too bogged down in the depressing details, it is a huge issue for the city. Homelessness is at its highest level since the Great Depression. It doesn’t just affect the men and women you regularly see but many families as well.
Through my research I was hoping to find out what organisations recommended people do when they see homeless people on the street. Obviously call 911 if you are seriously worried about a person sleeping rough and you think it’s a medical emergency. In extreme weather you can call 311 if you’re concerned about someone and the responsible organisation is required to act quickly to check on the welfare of that person.
From what I read, organisations don’t actively encourage giving money or food/water to homeless people. It won’t change their life however it may make their day easier. I also discovered lots of amazing work being done by organisations in New York to support the city’s homeless population. There’s outreach programs, food programs, crisis service and advocacy, to name a few. Coincidently AWNY’s chosen charity this year ‘The Dwelling Place’ is one such organisation. It is a transitional residence for homeless women, which works hard to maintain the dignity of the women and supports their transition back into the community. Keep an eye on the AWNY website and AWNY updates as there’ll be volunteering opportunities for this charity later in the year.
The homeless situation in NYC will not be solved any time soon but in honour of Stephen, I now make an effort to give food or money to people when I feel I should. I know it won’t change their lives but a little kindness goes a long way. I now also make a regular donation to a charity I believe does worthwhile work which does make a difference in the long term.
If you’re interested, here are some links to some of the websites I found useful and interesting:
If you don’t want to give money, the Coalition for the Homeless has some really good information on their website, including a help card to print out and give to people begging so they know where to go for help.
See why moving to Hoboken was a winner with former AWNY Vice President Peta Arthurson.
My husband and I stumbled upon the neighborhood of Hoboken and at first we completely freaked out. We had never planned on moving to NEW JERSEY!!! That’s a whole different state, and train system! But, if you read along with me you will see why I think its been our best neighborhood so far!
Upon recently expanding my family to include our new baby girl Matilda, my husband and I knew we wanted a little more space at but with affordable rent, and non- negotiable outdoor space for our dog (there was no way could I walk him at night in the dead of winter with a newborn if my hubby was away for work!) And of course we wanted all of this without moving to Westchester or some other upstate NY or Long Island location. I’m pleased to report we found it in Hoboken, New Jersey, just a short distance from Manhattan.
Peta, husband Shane and baby Matilda on Matilda’s first Snow Day – Dec 2016
Where is Hoboken?
Hoboken, New Jersey is right across the Hudson river and is bordered by Weehawken to the North and Jersey City to the South & West. The streets are on a grid similar to Manhattan with the cross streets being numbered from 1st (downtown) to 14th (uptown) and some president’s names like Washington, Adams, Madison, Monroe.
Transport in Hoboken
Hoboken is essentially in line with Houston and 23rd streets of Manhattan and getting into the city is quick and easy. The PATH train runs regularly from 33rd street to Hoboken and the ferry runs to 42nd and World Trade Center. In fact, if you work downtown, the ferry takes only 5 minutes. There are also buses, with NJ Transit operating between the Hoboken Bus Terminal and Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. We also have a light rail system connecting Jersey City to Weehawken and beyond.
Moving from Sydney to Manhattan was exciting and dangerous.
The first challenge was to determine which neighborhood to live but in fact this was a favorite old game between my husband and I:
Are you Upper West Side? Or Upper East Side?
There is no right or wrong; some days I am UWS, some days I feel UES.
So why did I move to the UWS? Lets be really practical…
We bled money paying for a Real Estate Broker who swore that the UWS was the best place to be with a young family. There are many family friendly neighbourhoods in Manhattan, however the UWS has some definite benefits; especially if your little one is at home with you, all day without a backyard!
Kid friendly restaurants: the diners won’t glare at you when you sit down and whip out the iPads, and the waiters bring crayons to the table. Plus, they offer cocktails too so everybody wins
Schools: There are good schools (public and private) located on the UWS. It’s a predominant reason why this neighbourhood is so popular – do note that there is a lot of competition to win a place at these schools.
Its stroller-friendly. I mention this because if you have a stroller, wide footpaths with proximity to a subway is so important for your sanity. I plowed the snowy footpaths of Broadway and West End Ave with my trusty Mountain Buggy and lived to tell the tale.
Harry’s shoes on Broadway, not quite Manolo but very convenient
Barnes and Nobles on Broadway….I know Amazon is taking over the world but I still love a good bookstore
AWNY member and newly appointed Events and Membership Manager for AAA, Anna McCrea, tells us about her local area, Greenpoint.
Where: Greenpoint is located in the northernmost point of the New York City borough of Brooklyn and is bordered by Williamsburg to the south and Long Island City, Queens to the north.
The Vibe: Known as Little Poland, Greenpoint is home to a large Polish immigrant and Polish-American community. This means AMAZING bakeries and butchers! My landlord and flat-mate are both Polish immigrants and I have never met more generous and open-hearted people (while also blunt and straight-to-the-point). Recent years have seen an influx of young students, artists and musicians move into the area due to the climbing rents of neighboring Williamsburg, so there is a fun hipster feel with great new bars, boutiques and brunch spots. With McCarren Park on the southern border you will also find an abundance of dog walkers, sporting groups, people on picnics, and couples pushing prams. Over all it has a very chilled, family-friendly and relaxing vibe.
My Greenpoint picks: My favorite things about Greenpoint include the farmers markets at Msgr. McGolrick park, the string of Polish bakeries on Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. for fresh produce or an intimate dine-in experience, Café Grumpy for a great flat white (also frequently featured in the TV show Girls), and the Australian-export No Lights No Lycra, the weekly feel-good dance party in the dark held at a local church basement on Russell Street. NLNL was something I went to regularly back home in Brisbane for a cheap and healthy weeknight activity, so I love having it right around the corner from me in New York.
Transport: Unless you are prepared to walk 15-20 minutes down to the Bedford L stop, the only line that runs through Greenpoint is the G, which is known for being slow and unreliable. However if weather is good, the walk by the park is great, and that I can get to most places in Manhattan within 30-40 minutes (this walk may not be as enjoyable in winter though).
What Greenpoint may lack in transport options is made up for with its parks, cafes and overall clean and friendly feel. Next time you are in Brooklyn pop up and pay Greenpoint a visit!
Long Island City (LIC) is my second New York neighborhood (we were previously in the FiDi) and I definitely have a love/hate relationship with it. While it has spectacular views, amenity-laden apartment buildings, and great parks, it does lack the gritty Manhattan vibe. It’s very new and safe, but it can be much colder than Manhattan in winter due to the brutal East River winds. For most of the year, LIC slips under the radar. That is until 50,000 people descend on July 4th to grab the best fireworks viewing spots (a little-known secret)!
LIC is the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of Queens, directly opposite midtown Manhattan. You’re looking at it when you see the Pepsi Cola sign. It is noted for its rapid and ongoing residential growth and gentrification, its waterfront parks, and its thriving arts community. It is bordered by Astoria to the north, the East River to the west, Hazen Street/49th Street and New Calvary Cemetery in Sunnyside to the east, and Newtown Creek to the south.
Access to LIC is via the 7 train and transport is wonderful because you can transfer to any subway line as it runs across 42nd street stopping at Grand Central, Bryant Park and Times Square. The E train is also a 15 minute walk away. The East River Ferry runs across to 34th Street and downtown through Brooklyn to Wall Street.
I live in the Center Boulevard area of LIC, where buildings are new and shiny and most apartments have amazing Manhattan views. Common amenities in the buildings include gyms, roof decks, bbqs, pools, and cinema rooms.
The area is still very new and is still finding its own identity. It is very family friendly with the Gantry State Park running along the foreshore. We have basketball courts, children’s playgrounds and lots of grass and trees! It is often nicknamed Dog Island City because there are so many dogs in the area and we have just got our 4th dog park within walking distance of my building.