For the fourth year, Queens resident and homeless advocate Yusef Ramileze will be sleeping in a New York City public space for one week; this year his location of choice is Washington Square Park. His goal is to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless in New York City. Ramileze told DNAinfo he chose Washington Square Park because of “its reputation as a haven for the homeless.” He began sleeping at WSP yesterday and will stay through August 11th, also fasting and taking vow of silence.
Nearby Union Square was the creative manager’s location for two of the previous years and Grand Central for one. This will be his last year conducting the project, Homeless for One Week, which Ramelize began because he was “looking for a new way to raise awareness of homelessness.”
The homeless population has been at record highs during the Bloomberg Administration’s oh so long tenure.
“We need to let politicians know that this is something that really matters to us,” Ramelize said. “Because of the economy, organizations doing really great work have been lacking in funds. We need to pick up the slack.”
Like past places where Ramelize has slept, he chose the busy Washington Square Park, which is officially closed from midnight to 6 a.m., for its reputation as a haven for the homeless.
“This is something I’m just experiencing for a week,” he said. “I can’t even imagine doing this every night.”
After years of advocacy, Ramelize said he has a better understanding of the scope of homelessness. While mental illness and drug addiction are among the most common causes associated with homelessness, Ramelize has learned about students living out of their cars to afford tuition and single mothers forced to live on the street.
“The extent of the type of person you would see going homeless over the past few years is much bigger than I thought,” he said, as people who were once middle-class have begun to struggle for survival.
Ramelize will be fasting and taking a vow of silence – which will be interesting at WSP! He hopes to raise $5000 for Muslims Against Hunger this year. You can visit his web site Homeless for One Week to make a donation or learn more.
More on Mike Bloomberg administration’s relation to homeless advocates from Coalition for the Homeless.