Just to be treated as a human is a pain in the ass. Picture that every day except for when you go to work, you don’t hear your name, you’re a number. That’s the common problem with this whole system is that we’re not looked at as human beings. Since I’ve been in this system, the only time I hear my name is when I see my case manager. Otherwise, I’m a 12-digit number. I’m not a person. I’m an ID. This is why I say it’s like jail, because when you go to jail, you are not a human anymore. It kind of reminds me of Full Metal Jacket: “Name, rank, serial number.” My name? Irrelevant. My rank? It’s still irrelevant. But my serial number, they make sure that they get that.
Abena Walker on being homeless and living in the NYC housing system, from the NY Magazine article Why It’s So Hard to Stop Being Homeless in New York.