March 15, 2018 By Staff Report
Update 3/22 4:10 p.m. – The Project For Living Artists announced that the date of the event has changed to Wednesday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m.
The author of a comprehensive book about homelessness, its causes, myths and potential solutions, will discuss her work at an author talk in Woodside.
Crystal Wolfe is the author of “Our Invisible Neighbors: Accounts, Causes, and Solutions to the Epidemic of Homelessness in the 21st Century.” The author talk and book signing will take place on Wednesday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Project for Living Artists located at 38-02 61st Street, hosted by the Project Life Center.
“Our Invisible Neighbors” puts a human face to the homelessness epidemic, through interviews with many different people experiencing homelessness, from Queens to the Dominican Republic.
“I just felt that the heart of it was to tell their stories, and to show that each of them is an individual who became homeless for different reasons,” Wolfe said. “But nobody deserves to be homeless.”
It’s a personal issue for Wolfe, who included her own stories of poverty, domestic violence and homelessness in the book. She is also the founder of Catering for the Homeless, which connects caterers and restaurants with organizations that can distribute their excess food to the homeless.
Along with the personal accounts, “Our Invisible Neighbors” explores the many, often interconnected causes of homelessness. This involved research into everything from domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, and access to education or healthcare, according to Wolfe.
“What I’ve been through has made me a really compassionate person, so I have a heart for people, especially the abused and homeless, and so it’s really important for me to tell their stories,” she said. “One of the myths is that homelessness is a choice, and it’s so shocking to me to hear people say that.”
Wolfe also focuses on potential solutions to homelessness in the book. She said she spent a lot of time researching local efforts in Queens, from the community board level to legislation. She also studied homelesnessness nationally and internationally, to find how other states and countries reduced homelessness. She cited affordable housing and laws regarding domestic abuse as particularly relevant, noting that domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness in New York City.
She also includes a chapter on ways that individuals can help the homeless, such as providing business cards and creating resumes for job seekers, raising awareness on social media, or simply speaking respectfully with people who are homeless in their neighborhood.
“I’m an idealistic person,” she said. “But if idealism doesn’t have a practical use, it’s as unproductive as cynicism.”
Wolfe said she hopes that people walk away from this month’s event with more knowledge on homelessness and are inspired to become a part of the solution.
“What I really would like is for people to at least begin to open their minds and hearts to the truth and the myths of homelessness,” she said.
Following this month’s event, Wolfe also plans to host a reading at the Sunnyside branch of the Queens Library on Saturday, April 7 at 3:00 p.m. and at the Middle Village branch on Saturday, April 21 at 2:30 p.m.
Those who are interested in learning more about Catering For the Homeless, can e-mail [email protected].