Homelessness is an issue that affects everyone. In the process of making and promoting their new movie, Time Out of Mind, actor Richard Gere and director Oren Moverman were shocked at how many people had stories to share about being homeless or on the brink of homelessness. Realizing that people wanted an open discussion about the issue, they answered fans’ questions in a video posted to Facebook yesterday.
Richard Gere is a longtime supporter of the Coalition who, along with Alec Baldwin, will be honored next month at our ARTWALK NY fundraiser.
Gere and Moverman turned to the Coalition for guidance when making Time Out of Mind, which chronicles a homeless man’s ordeal in the shelters and on the streets. But as Gere mentioned in yesterday’s video, the common perception of homeless people as men panhandling on the sidewalk is actually misleading: In New York City alone, there are nearly 24,000 kids sleeping in shelters each night.
Gere also emphasized the importance of addressing the homelessness crisis through housing-based solutions rather than stop-gap measures.
“A shelter is a warehouse… Warehousing will never work. It’s complete recidivism, the warehousing approach. Real housing – long-term housing, long-term help from professionals who really know what they’re doing, and being able to find the right people and social services that do have the patience and the skill to deal with the situation – changes it. You can be very successful with that.”
Permanent housing is both compassionate and fiscally responsible. “Homelessness is an expensive problem,” Moverman said, pointing to the costs of cycling through hospitals, jails and shelters.
Gere encouraged viewers to pressure both the Mayor and the Governor to take immediate action to combat record homelessness. He highlighted supportive housing – pairing critical on-site services with the stability and dignity of a permanent home – as one of the most effective tools in breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness for people living with mental illness and other special needs.
The Coalition and hundreds of other organizations have been calling on the City and the State to jointly commit to funding 35,000 units of supportive housing statewide over the next 10 years as part of a fourth NY/NY agreement. You can help us work toward this proven, sensible and humane solution to homelessness by adding your name to our online petition.
Gere concluded the conversation by reiterating that many of us are one missed paycheck or one rent increase away from homelessness – and that we must all work together to end this crisis.
“I don’t think any of us are ultimately that far away from losing it. And especially in the world we’re in today, money doesn’t go as far as it did. Income inequality is something very, very real. None of us are that far away from falling off the cliff. I think we have to keep our hearts warm and see our brothers and sisters who have fallen off the cliff in a different way – that it’s us, it’s us tomorrow, maybe.”
Watch the full video here.