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Charmain has been homeless in and out of the New York City shelter system since 2005. This is Invisible People’s third interview with Charmain. While we love reconnecting with friends, we hate homelessness, and this story validates how broken NYC’s homeless services are. 

You may have seen clips from both of Charmain’s videos featured recently on Homelessness: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). If you haven’t watched John Oliver’s show, please take the time to view it. While it has a comedic spin, it’s the first national show that shares how public perception affects policy change, which is the focus of our work. Unfortunately, politicians are putting more resources into getting homeless people out of sight than trying to solve homelessness and help people, which will only worsen homelessness. 

Many people think homeless shelters are a solution. Yet, while shelters can play an essential role in a support network providing a path from the streets to housing, homeless services are broken, and people like Charmain fall through the cracks in the safety net. 

Charmain is provided with a bed in a shelter, but she doesn’t feel safe as an abuse survivor, so Charmain spends much of her time outside. Her boyfriend is now in housing, but homeless services do not allow couples to live together. So if Charmain sleeps there, both of them will be kicked out. It really doesn’t make any sense. 

Charmain is intelligent and resourceful. She has to be to survive the streets for this long. Charmain wants to work, but she will need time inside to heal from years of trauma to be able to maintain a job. 

Your voice can help end homelessness. If we do not fix the affordable housing crisis, homelessness will continue to get worse. Click here to tweet, email, call, or Facebook your federal and state legislators to tell them ending homelessness and creating more affordable housing is a priority to you. 

Charmain’s previous interviews: 

15 Years Homeless in New York City 

Homeless woman in New York City’s shelter system since 2005

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Invisible People


We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Until then, we strive to be the most trusted source for homelessness news, education and advocacy.

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