As a formerly homeless resident of Chinatown who has in the last year been blessed with permanent housing and an actual way to deal with my life-long substance abuse issue that caused me to be homeless, I feel that it’s important to say that we are all responsible for our own decisions and minimizing someone’s responsibility for their actions only emboldens them and others.
I truly feel terrible about what I have seen happen to these businesses that have been here for generations who have been hit so hard by this overwhelming tidal wave of drug addiction and mental illness being condensed into one small area.
Ironically, these people who have had their business so negatively impacted by this were the most kind and generous to me when I was homeless. Many times, they fed me and helped me with other things I needed, completely out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s my opinion that you can explain or minimize guilt however you choose but the bottom line is, no one has the right to endanger anyone else’s personal safety or their right to work hard and support their loved ones.
I take full responsibility for my actions when I was actively using in the street and was just as much a part of the problem as anyone else and for that I am sorry, yet mere words are why we are all in this mess together, whether through unfulfilled promises or just people plainly wanting to blame others for their actions.
I sincerely wish there was some way to change all of this and save Chinatown but as much as it hurts me to say, the problems are now so systemic that only complete change in every aspect of the word would be necessary and until the powers that be are willing to make some unpopular but desperately needed changes, things will go on as as they have.
— John Ronnfeld