Friday, June 28, 2013

A case against using the term 'crusty'


[At a recent Thursday night PBJ Dinner in Tompkins Square Park]

Andréa Stella, executive director and co-founder of The Space at Tompkins, submitted the following post.

With the summer in full swing, a lot of our clients are coming back to New York, and we wanted to take a moment to give an explanation for a term that has been and will inevitably be thrown around while they're here.

Three reasons why we don't call our clients "crusties"

1) The term "crusty" is derived from "Crust Punk," a punk movement started in the 1980s out of England with followers who referred to themselves as "crust punkers." Being a "crusty" is like calling someone a Deadhead. 99% of our clients do not refer to themselves as crusties, so we don't either. The term gets thrown around a lot in the East Village because it's a quick way to define a group of folks who look a certain way, but that doesn't make it accurate.

2) When asked, "What do you consider yourself?" — almost everyone told us their name. The first time I asked someone that question, I felt like an idiot because I know that personally, I don't walk around introducing myself as, "Hi, I identify as a white female and my name is Andréa." I start with my name.

3) Our clients are individuals, and most of them are trying to transition out of their current situation. It may not always look like it to outsiders, but there are many complex issues right under the surface that each person copes with in their own way. Tagging someone as "crusty" deepens the stigma and does not promote positive change.

We're The Space at Tompkins, a harm reduction organization whose mission is to help homeless travelers move towards improved health and self-sufficiency. We've been doing this since 2009.

Learn more about The Space at Tompkins here.

105 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Andrea,

Thanks for the history lesson, I always thought the faction of your clients referred to as crusties were named such because they are intentionally disgusting and in your face, not to be confused with the truly homeless who have no choice in the matter.

I also always wondered why they showed up in NYC in the summer, often in an SUV with Connecticut license plates, and assumed it was because they preferred to winter in their parents' comfortable homes. Thank you for clarifying that they are here becuase they are trying to transition out of their current situations.

Anonymous said...

My friend calls them "Children of the Dust"

Better?

Anonymous said...

Wow... Certainly puts a human perspective to every day EV sightings. Thanks for posting Grieve!

Anonymous said...

Her clients are individuals in that they are individual members of a group known collectively as "crusties." They should consider themselves fortunate that people refer to them by their style of dress instead of their actions.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a good thing that there's an organization set up to help these kids, but they would do well to focus more on their outreach and less on trying to change peoples' language.

Anonymous said...

Stereotypes are ugly. So the haters here are OK with saying that Asian people can't drive, Jewish people are cheap, blondes are dumb?

Are you all OK with racist labels too? You're OK with marginalizing an entire population? You're OK with such contemptuous terms? Or are you going to get all politically correct now with race?

Uncle Waltie said...

"Stereotypes are ugly. So the haters here are OK with saying that Asian people can't drive, Jewish people are cheap, blondes are dumb?"

WOW---we got a winner.

Anonymous said...

we call them "foamies" AKA fake homeless. it really dosent matter, just stop asking me for change and getting in my face. oh, and leave the dogs at home.

Pinch said...

Looking at their website, I’d be interested to know the break-down in numbers related to the amount of people who utilize the Tier 1, Tier 2, and/or Tier 3 benefits.

Also, on their website: “Our members are often targeted by law enforcement and they do not always feel confident approaching service providers and large government institutions.” Hopefully, this organization emphasizes, with the people they provide benefits to, the importance of personal conduct and taking responsibility for actions.

Anonymous said...

I've been seeing these "Kid's" coming in the spring and leaving in the fall. That said it's the dogs and cat's I feel bad for, they don't have a choice, these kid's do........

abrod said...

I feel bad for Andréa (Andrea? No, Ahhhn-drAY-ah) as she's basically being taken advantage of simply because she cares about people. These kids all probably have families at home who care about them and are worried sick because their son or daughter decided to pick up a heroin habit due to some kind of white middle-class guilt. Of course, the one part of their upbringing they don't shed? Entitlement.

Anonymous said...

Andrea's statements are lovely and compassionate but I am unmoved.

To me, the "crusties" are the dirty, seasonal beggars with dogs and cats and who get in your face and steal your shit.

Last summer one guy stole my friend's coffee she had just bought and placed on the bench beside her. She was distracted for a moment and that's when the thief struck. How could she have guessed someone would have stolen her coffee? She didn't dare approach the "crusty" who took her coffee because she knew they could get violent (usually with each other but still!).

If someone wants a coffee so damn bad they can ask for one or go to Bowery Mission for one.

I feel no empathy for these kids.

Anonymous said...

Their homelessness is an affectation. They have money for Dead Kennedys patches, combat boots, tents, Pitt bulls, cell phones, kittens, etc. but beg ME for money? Oh, and yell at me when I don't blindly turn it over? Crustie is the least offensive term that comes to mind, trust me.

Anonymous said...

You know what, guys? Andrea's right. We shouldn't be calling them "crusties" - that's completely unfair to the crust punkers of the 80's and does too much to glorify this dirt. They don't deserve to be tied to that movement.

Also interesting how she refers to them as "clients"...a term that implies they are compensating her. She sounds like an f'ing lawyer defending her client in court.

Anonymous said...

"Foamies" that's a good one. Anyway, i'll save my concern, and spare change, for the people who are homeless due to mental illness or some misfortune.

For the crusties, i will do as i've always done; when they get in my face looking for a handout i'll say "If you need money, call your mom." Updated over the last couple of years to "Use your smartphone right there to call your mom."

All that said, if these kids want to slum in the park then slum in the park. God bless, who cares? i only care when they get in my face. .

Anonymous said...

I have a 10 year old flip phone, literally held together with tape. if someone with a smart phone asks me for $ i'm laughing in their crustie face.

kfbeau said...

I don't doubt there are some that want out of their situation and I feel bad for anyone of them with a drug or alcohol addiction. However it is not a coincidence the attire and menagerie of animals are not there for attention and handouts. Most New Yorkers do not see these people as "real" homeless but perhaps kids that wanted to belong to something rebellious. Living through the 80's in this neighborhood I saw homeless people that were often not lucid and complete outcast. This "group" however always finds money for full limb tattoos which I only see as money poorly spent. I have employed homeless people in the past by letting them sweep my sidewalk and simple task. Beggars never get my sympathy.

Anonymous said...

1. Not every traveler begs for change or owns a pet. The worst offender for begging remains LES JEWELS, who lives here year-round.

2. Rich parents or not, it can be terribly difficult growing up feeling as if you don't belong. Many of these kids have been badly bullied and ostracized, and they in turn run away, take drugs — anything to help escape their cruel reality.

The comments here seem to come from the kind of entitled pricks who abused these kids in high school.

I'm glad you all had it so easy.

Anonymous said...

I went to college in Boston with "crusties" who traveled down to NYC for the summer between semesters to hang out, do drugs and have fun while I spent the summers working to pay for school. Most of them would return to school in the fall but there were a few who got caught up in the life, or more accurately got caught up in the drugs and then kept at it.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, they're all abused kids, and none of us were bullied.

I do not doubt that the people behind "the Space" want to help the homeless, but, as those of use who have volunteered at the Bowery Mission or some such place know, the homeless can be truly scary. They are often mentally ill, violent, dreadfully sick with everything from HIV to TB, and not simply dirty but covered with scabs and leaking wounds. They are people who truly need help, but are very difficult to help. Our hearts and wallets should be open to the homeless and anyone working with the homeless in our city.

The crusties are down right cuddly in comparision, they're mostly white, young, middle class, non-violent and healthy. Of course they're only acting homeless and the Space is only.. well you get the idea... it's kabuki theater, with everyone playing a part.

Anonymous said...

"Person first" language came from the field of disability, more than 25 years ago. Research showed that the "name" we use for people, affects our feelings (or lack thereof)for those people.

In institutional settings, people who used wheelchairs were referred to as "the wheelchairs," and were, typically, treated as wheelchairs. In an experiment, caregivers and providers were given an opportunity to learn about the person using the wheelchair, and were required to refer to the person by name. The operations also stopped grouping people by their disability (wheelchair bus...wheelchair table...etc.).

Studies found that the culture in the facilities changed...for the better. The caregivers and providers changed...for the better. The clients changed...for the better.

The language we use, about ANY group of people, affects our feelings about those people. We can do better.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way Andrea's group could convince these kids to give up their animals? I saw two of them in the park yesterday and they must have shot up because they were in those heroin poses and their poor dog didn't have a lick of water to drink. I thought of going back with a bowl for the dog but my dogwalker friend said the dog might go on the defensive if I got too close.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:53 - so, if I was bullied in high school, it would be completely cool for me to abuse and starve animals, harass and fight people on the street, defecate in churches, and piss in mailboxes?

We don't hate the crusties because they're smelly and do drugs. We hate them because they're entitled pricks who abuse animals and humans.

Anonymous said...

I'm not entitled nor did I abuse anyone in high school. I HAVE been verbally abused by these people on more than one occasion. They see my tattoos and think we are comrads and have followed me down the street berating me. Sometimes in packs of four or five.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece. Personally, I always thought the term "crusty" made sense due their lack of hygiene. Also, their skin is usually crusty and full of boils from popping heroin. I know, I treat these "kids" when they show up at the ER.
I've had pity for them, especially the ones that need serious medical care because they're becoming septic from that cellulitis the "health center" told them was nothing. I've also had anger towards them, especially when they overtake the sidewalks and parks I walk through and beg me for money. I fear for them, because I know they are targets to those who hate and are violent.
I'm torn by my ambiguous feelings towards them. Although, most of the time, they annoy me and I just want them to go home. And the smell... well, that's another post altogether.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, High School is pretty far back for me, but the crusties are a lot more like the bulliers i remember than the bullied.

The bullies were cliquish, druggies or jocks who worked in groups to intimidate others etc. The bullied were skinny nerds with glasses who kept to themselves and didn't bother anyone. I know, i was one!

Anonymous said...

Crusties proudly call themselves crusties and crusty punks. One of the guys even made his own crusty punk t-shirts. I hate when outsiders come in and try to tell people what they can and can't call themselves. People want to belong to tribes.

Anonymous said...

No, they are crusties. They poop in the park and sleep in it too. You'd help them better by not "helping" them, kick them the f. out and let them stop leaching on society.

Anonymous said...

All societies have their outcast tribes "Roma" in Eastern Europe "Tinker" in Ireland, Scotland matters little what you call them they make a free choice as to how they live and what they value and as long as their behavior is lawful and does not infringe on the rights of others let them migrate as they choose they are not the banality of evil nor are they worthy of empathy as well, they do not inspire you to "einfuhlung" quite the opposite their choice I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Gutter Pirates?

Anonymous said...

not sure when it happened, but at some point in the last ten years, we became Portland, Oregon. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

I have a name for them. Animal Abusers. Straight up animal abusers. They can abuse themselves all they want, leave the animals alone. I live in the EV and spend my summer avoiding Tompkins Square Park because I am so sad when I see the poor animals they drag around and abuse.
I loathe these people. And hate the sight of them.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that I was reading the comments section at FOX News.

Anonymous said...

Fox News my ass. You just don't have a resonse to the valid points discussed in the comment section. When your conversation skills are up to par please check back.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything we can do to help their animals? Get them rescued by a no-kill shelter? How do we go about that because there's no way in hell those animals are properly cared for.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insightful post. Very humanizing, and in the end, we're all human here (I think.)

Anonymous said...

The majority of these people (such "outcasts" as they all party together in the park) are bullies themselves. I always try to help people who seem to be truly in need. But when it's a kid with an iphone who calls me yuppie scum in my own neighborhood because I won't give him $5 (and I'm a woman who has been in the punk scene before they were even bor4n), I find it abhorrent and my empathy goes out the window. I don't care if kids are smelly or trying to rebel against their parents. But if they're gonna try to menace me in the process, they're gonna have their asses handed to them. I have offered these kids jobs before, saying that they can come and barback for me during happy hour if they need money and none have taken me up on the offer. They are just as entitled as the 22 year olds and woo-hooers who drink until they fall down. Same behavior, different clothes. Of course, I am open to meeting the person who is an anomaly and is a kind, respectful person in need--but for the most part, these people are a bunch of brats.

Anonymous said...

Fox News? Buddy, drag queens, run of the mill homeless and schizos are one thing, but fake, rude low class kids from Shaker Heights attempting to recreate some imagined late 1970s-ish Sex Pistols fantasy world are entirely another.

Lisa said...

I just LOVE how all you assholes constantly bitch about how these kids are all from rich homes and have parents that will take them back when the reality is the majority have been on the streets since a young age and were severely abused, grew up in foster care or come from addicted parents themselves . And they leave in the winter to go somewhere warmer because it's fucking cold in NY moron . They don't go home for the winter . I think you're confusing them with the Occupy Wall Streeters . And as far as coming in an SUV that's just ridiculous . They ride trains to get here . Maybe the kids you saw were getting a ride from someone from CT .

Anonymous said...

Anon at 12:38 has it completely right, and explains why most of us long time and lifetime EVers either, ignore, mock or loathe the crusties.

As for the "fox news" poster, i'm nearing 50 and have only been called a conservative once in my life, and that was by a Maoist so hardly counts.

Anonymous said...

An East Village resident for 30+ years, I have lived through the punk era, the crack era, the heroin era, another crack era, etc. These are just a bunch of east village wannabes with rich parents (I have seen the drop offs in Mercedes from Westchester, LI etc) that CHOOSE to live on the streets in warm weather. Amazing how they are nowhere to be found when the temps drop below 45. If you have a phone, someone is paying your bills. You are choosing this lifestyle but do not impose this on the animals. And stay out of my face.

Anonymous said...

I'm sympathetic to a point--who of us hasn't fallen on hard times (or were brought up in horrific situations)? But there comes a time when, if resources and assistance are not being accepted, that it should be focused elsewhere. My personal experience with these seasonal travellers has been extremely negative (they are aggressive and rude). And when 1 in 3 children in NYC live at the poverty level, I would rather see resources used to ensure that children have enough to eat as opposed to following 25 year old nomadic travelers with iphones around begging them to go back to their parents. The latter are people with resources. The former are not. How about helping those who have nowhere else to turn? Able bodied adults are pretty low on my list of people to assist. Especially ones whose deprivation is a rebellious lark.

Anonymous said...

While we are splitting hairs, the term would not be Foamies, but Fauxmies or Fauxmeless.

Glenn Belverio said...

Would it be more P.C. to call them "people of crust"?

Lisa said...

Please tell me how somebody can act homeless . If you don't have anywhere to live you are homeless . And most of these kids are not middle class they come from poverty addicted and neglectful parents, foster care or were physically, sexually and mentally abused . I would just love for one of you to actually sit down and talk to them and listen to their life story and what brought them to the streets . Why would anybody choose this ?? Why dies everyone think they're all rich trust funders that are just having fun . These are real people with very real problems . Get over yourself .

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear more about what this organization is attempting to help these people transition into.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, get it straight. No one is bitching simply because these kids choose to live on the streets.

We're bitching because these idiots are cruel to their animals, try to intimidate people for handouts, and are now apparently diverting resources (i.e., Space) away from people who actually need help.

If the "travelers" simply came to NYC, slept in the park, and didn't bother anyone, no one would care.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, i stopped interacting with the Crusties in the mid1990s. So i feel safe to say that unless things have drastically changed, you're almost completely wrong. these kids openly admit to rather be living "under the stars" and traveling than living in a apt or back at home. Their tears of poverty are belied by the ever present iphones and full sleeve, not prison made, tattoos.

With very few exceptions, they're slumming, doping and traveling by choice, which is awesome except for the aggressive panhandling.

Save your pity for people who deserve it, i suggest the Bowery Mission. Spend an hour volunteering there and you'll know the deal. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

So much hate on here. It's amazing. The readers of this blog are always so ready to hate on gentrification and return to a greater time. And yet, the remnants of the 80s and 90s--noise, drugs, street people, travelers, etc--are so hated on here. The response to these kids is one of many examples.

There's something very specific that readers of this blog are looking for. And it's something that never existed in the way they wish it had.

It's fascinating...

Anonymous said...

This is one of those posts where people who have lived here for a year pretend they are "longtime East Village residents" who think they know "the streets."

Anonymous said...

I'll take the crusties/travelers over the frat boys and girls any day. At least the crusty/travelers leave after the summer.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lisa! Maybe some of us HAVE spoken to these people and are speaking from this experience? And guess what? I GREW UP HOMELESS and have a past chock full o' abuse. Same with many of my friends. And we didn't (and still don't) treat other people like shit! People aren't lacking empathy to the fact that these seasonal guests are homeless (whether by choice or circumstance)--it is that this particular demographic seems to be consistently and excessively rude, demanding, and aggressive. The old "they have problems" excuse doesn't go far with me and forgive abusive behavior. We all have problems. Some of us have had just as many problems if not more and we still don't "demand" anything from anyone. And when we're told "No, I'm sorry", we don't follow people down the street and berate them. For those that are in need of help and ready to take it, I wish them all of the best. But it doesn't excuse abusive and disrespectful behavior in the meantime. And that is what the community is commenting on. These people who come here for three months out of the year and yell at us. I don't have to feel sorry for them or accept or support the bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

I really couldn't care less if their parents have money or do not. This is entirely about taking responsibility for your own life (at any age, covered with crap or not). We are talking about young addicts who would rather beg than work. The abuse of the animals is horrible. The abuse of each other is visible from my 6th St. window on any given night - men beating women and men cutting men. Where is my compassion? I am over 50 and never was "an entitled prick", lived here for 25 years and was a hard core club kid way back when. I always worked at something.

One last thing, when I refused to give money to one of these unfortunates he pulled out his dick and masturbated in the air. Andrea, are there self-help classes to discourage that?

Anonymous said...

There are so many people here in the neighborhood year-round who could use a helping hand, and I choose to focus my efforts on those people. It's unfair for the crusties to swoop in for the summer to party and do drugs and take away resources that could be devoted to helping people who live here all year long and don't cause trouble and could use a hand with groceries and other assistance.

Anonymous said...

2:04, I am quite sure most of the readers of EV Grieve have lived in this part of the city for at least 10 years. I have this strong sense of this being the case from the majority of commenters here (been a Grieve reader for years). You don't know sh*t.

I've lived in NYC proper for 21 years, LES for 10.

Grieve should run a poll!

Anonymous said...

It would be great if these groups that "help" the crusties would take into consideration the torture they inflict upon the people who live here. I come from a family of people with addiction issues and noticed even as a kid who the people that came to "help" only "helped" the addict, never those of us around the addict who suffered.

Anonymous said...

I knew if I read long enough somebody would do Brando from Street Car named Desire.Andrea you are inspirational and this has become the Theater of the Absurd

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:12, so they leave in the Winter because it's too cold in nY? How quaint. i stay in NY in the winter so I can work to pay my mortgage.

Anonymous said...

Is this the part where people start posting how long they've lived here in order to prove something, as if anyone cares. Bottom line, these transient dbags add neither character nor "grit" to the neighborhood. They merely add anger, fear and angst until they move on to some other haunt harrassing people for money.

Giovanni said...

I have spent many years documenting the plight of and doing volunteer work with the homeless in NYC, but the Crusties are more akin to something out of a Mad Max movie. They are tribal, overly loud and aggressive, and they openly abuse animals who always look tired and depressed.

Long before they were quaintly known as "Crusties" there was another much less quaint name for them: drug addicts. Or hobos. Or bums.

I lost all sympathy for this tribe last year, while witnessing a fight at their encampment outside the doors of St Marks Church in the Bowery on E 9th St. I practically grew up playing on the grounds of this church, and to see what they had been allowed to do to it was disgusting.

A Crusty Couple, a man and woman named Goldy and Morgan who looked like they had just come from a battle at the Thunderdome, had taken over a whole area just outside the front door to the church, piled high with mattresses, sleeping bags, backpacks. They were having a loud, vicious fight, throwing things at each other, while the other Crusties camped outside around the benches just watched and smoked and dozed off. Later, to retaliate against her boyfriend, Goldy painted some graffiti on the church--she painted “F@$% Morgan” across the base of the lion statue next to the church doors.

I realized at then that if they don't care enough about each other to stop a fight, or stop each other from vandalizing a church, imagine how they feel about the rest of us. Luckily the church rector locked the bathrooms and had them booted out, but like the cicadas they return again with the sole purpose of annoying anyone they can.


Makeout said...

Wow. That was a shit ton of comments to read through. New record Grieve? Btw not a fan of those sorts/folk/people whatever...

Andréa said...

Obviously I've waited to weigh in on these comments. I must say I'm not surprised, but I am so disappointed at the nastiness that is coming from people who consider themselves to be elevated beyond the people I have chosen to lend a hand to.

Look at yourselves. Some of you are tearing apart my character, my name, my work, without knowing anything about me or my history and for what?

Hate begets hate.

I saw a need 4 years ago because I came very close to being another homeless statistic myself, and it happened in Tompkins Square. Instead of complaining about it, I figured my time would be better served at least TRYING to do something.

The folks we work with aren't perfect, our organization isn't perfect and I am certainly far from perfect. I am happy to answer any and ALL questions people who have commented or read this piece might have about what we're doing and why. My direct email: andrea@thespaceattompkins.org

But please, take a breath, and look in the mirror, because this is a terrible look for the residents of the East Village.

EV Grieve said...

@makeout

154 comments is the record. Bike lanes!

http://evgrieve.com/2010/09/protest-planned-for-reconfigured.html

Anonymous said...

It's very easy to stand on a soapbox and shame people for sharing their feelings, but you have to realize that at a certain point people get fed up and are tired of being bullied in their own neighborhood. It's not right, and it's not fair. And I think residents of the East Village have proven themselves to be a caring and tolerant group, by the way. Look at how people rallied around Ray and helped him save his business, and look at much money has been raised for the man who was struck by a car in front of his deli on Second Avenue. I am proud of my friends and neighbors. They are good people.

Anonymous said...

Remember this:

http://evgrieve.com/2013/03/a-proposal-to-help-curb-east-village.html

Oh yeah!

Anonymous said...

Stay strong Andréa! Bless you for what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

I have a policy that I don't interact with people who approach me on the street whether they ask me for money or not. If you give a homeless person a dollar, they occasionally get up in your face and demand more. It can be pretty scary. Therefore, it's better to not even acknowledge them. Then, if they attack you or something, you can legitimately say "I didn't look at him or speak to him, he just asked me for money, I didn't reply, and he got violent."

Last week one two of those crusties saw me getting out of my car on Avenue A to get a falafel. They immediately got up in my face and demanded $5 for "food." I brushed past them and noticed they were following me. I said in a very pointed tone, "STOP FOLLOWING ME, LEAVE ME ALONE, I'M NOT GIVING YOU ANY MONEY!" They responded with some choice expletives and kept following me. I doubled back to the trunk of my car, pulled out one of my golf clubs, and told them to back the F off or I'd knock both of their heads off. It worked.

Oh, and one had an iPhone in his hand.

Anonymous said...

While I am not a fan of the crusties, and I don't like anyone trying to excuse their behavior, I think it is great that Andréa and her staff are working with them. It would be great if she could convince them to be more respectful of each other, their animals and the people around them while they are here. It doesn't hurt to have someone trying to get through to them. I wish her the best of luck. I have friends who do outreach, and I know how frustrating it can be. But someone has to make the effort.

Victoria said...

@ Andrea The issue I take is with your ham-fisted attempt to affect thought through the policing of language. If you're goal is to raise compassion for the people you're working for you should think less about correcting other people's vocabulary and think more about teaching the people you work with to be civil in a park setting, not to litter, not to have abusive relationships with their pets.

The negative perception of these crusty punks, bums, hobos, whatever language we use for them is based directly on their public behavior. We have nothing against individuals and people in need. We have issue with transients who have no stake in the community taking up space and disrespecting members of the community and public space.


The goal that you have is for the people who are invested in the community to be kinder and gentler to the people you are trying to help, and that is laudable. But the language used to describe them is the result of their behavior, not any preconceived distaste for the underprivileged.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:39, ABSOLUTELY spot-on. I'll just be echoing past posts,but it bears re-enforcing. I WAS homeless,an addict,on the street. I kept to myself,never tried to mix with this derelicts. You know what,eventually I got sick of sleeping on cardboard,"bathing" in public restrooms and being a junkie blight on my family and myself. These idiots almost universally have an entitled attitude. I have sympathy for the poor animals they keep as "pets"(-usually pit bulls- raised to be vicious,mange-y ,malnourished and without any quality of life) but ZERO for these people. They laze around all day,begging for $,spend it on dope and/or liquor,defecate and urinate wherever they please,screw and shoot up on our sidewalks etc. It's no kind of "life". Someone's childhood trauma or past problems can excuse them to a point. "Free Will". We all have it. Use the "system" you're rebelling against to HELP YOURSELVES. They are a greasy shit stain on the E. V. Andrea,your motives and intentions are admirable. I just wish they werent being exploited by your "clients".

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrea (if you're still reading the comments),

I appreciate the work you're doing and disagree with the comments suggesting that the effort would be better spent elsewhere. Social services or even charity is not a zero sum game; if it was, we could argue that kids in NYC actually aren't THAT poor and we should divert our resources to impoverished children in Sudan. I work in public health and am certainly concerned about the travelers and the community around them, on a couple of levels.

With that said, who are they really? (Sadly, I'm not willing to sit down and get to know them, because I've been verbally and physically attacked too many times.) How much truth is there to the idea that many of these folks are living this life purely by choice, despite having decent families to "transition" back to? I'm sure everyone has a different story, but it would help to understand a bit about the group's demographics and paths that have led them to where they are.

Thanks and best wishes to your groups, its clients, and their pets.

Jill said...

This is not a NY phenomenon. I was in Boulder last week and there were many dozens of these kids hanging around. In fact, they looked like exactly the same people so i thought maybe I had somehow magically brought them with me. Two friends with me were from San Francisco said they have them there too, along with their same belligerence and dogs.

Jill said...

Some stories http://crustypunks.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile a friend and I were walking home from Met tonight around 6 and crusties tried to instigate a fight with my friend. There was a gang of them by ST Marks and Second and two crusties, for no reason, got in my friends face, called him a faggot because he looked "cool" according them. Fuck these people already.

VH McKenzie said...

I wrote here a while ago about one of these "individuals" (yeah, I thought crusty only referred to their hygiene) who attempted to steal my husband's bike while he played a pick-up game of soccer in TSP.

He caught the young woman in mid-step, as she tried to slink away with his bike unnoticed. He called her out, told her to stop, drop his bike, and she began to argue loudly that it was HER bike, rae rae rae, blah blah blah.

When she proceeded to stroll away with his bike, he ran after her and cold-cocked her, she dropped to the ground, and retrieved his bike.

I was derided by some here for applauding his behavior. Ok, violence. Not good. But, jeezus, she was stealing his shit and was just going to walk away with it. You want him to call 911?

My husband is an immigrant of color, wIth minimal education opportunities in his home country, who emigrated to America for a better life. He has worked long hours, for shitty pay, in order to buy that bike.

The thought that someone who he saw as excessively- privileged by comparison (white, American citizen, with a free public school education and, presumably, fully literate) would STEAL from someone like him, someone who could tell abuse stories from a rural, third-world ghetto childhood that would put them TO SHAME , makes his head explode.

And mine, too.

I can't even speak further on this subject.

Andrea, I bless your compassion, but I question your approach.

Anonymous said...

Damn, you rich idiots. the residents of the East Village used to be totally cool and accepting of everyone. I've lived here for 5 whole years so I know what's what.

All you YUPPIES who whine about gentrification, then hate the "crusties" are hypocrites who don't know anything about what the the east village is all about. I don't care that you grew up here, or have lived in the area for the past 30 years. You're clueless.

I'm not offended in the least that they stole your husband's bike, or called your wife the C word in front of your 5 year old daughter, or that they literally took a steaming dump on the local church steps. That's all super cool, because the east village is super, super accepting, and doing stuff like stealing, and pooping, and terrorizing small children is like legit, just like the EV used to be back in the 1980s! What is offensive and wrong is using harmful words like Crusties.. that's so Fox TV.

Where can i donate so these kids can get some help, like more tattoos or a new Iphone, or more dope... they're a partying crew after all. Christ, i saw one poor basted carrying a flip phone yesterday! Horrors

Anonymous said...

Most street confrontations start with both a provocation and response, i.e., it takes two to tango. I've never had a problem with any of these folks, no confrontations, no incidents. When these kids panhandle, I either give or don't (as with anyone)--and when I don't I try to be polite about it. After all, a hungry person is hungry, and it doesn't really matter a whole lot where they came from or how privileged they are.

What's more disturbing is the harshness coming from so many of my neighbors and the entitled heights from which they issue judgment. I mean we're talking about young people, many of them on a path that will yield some rough lessons. Didn't Plato remind us to, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

One last thought about the dogs. I love dogs, and I've watched many of these kids and wonder how well they can care for them. But the only time I ever saw one of these dogs harmed was last summer, when an NYPD officer shot a pit bull in the head. The story was well reported on this website and its aftermath.

Anonymous said...

Here is a question for you guys... I see a white van with a crusty couple on 11th Street between 1st and 2nd avenue.
The couple is living in the van with their pitt bull (of course).
The thing that annoys me... They have virginia plates, cell phones and they spend all day pan handling in Union Square.
I feel a little bit bad about calling the police on them...
But should we tolerate stuff like this here? (they also dumped some of their old mattresses next to their dirty white van)

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone addressing a more serious issue? LES JEWELS. He is here year round. The other day he walked up to my girlfriend on St marks and acted like he was going to punch her. There's the other character named Ruben who is also a year-round menace. I saw him throwing trash at a woman walking through Tompkins in a business suit.

Pinch said...

The fact that some are describing this group as “kids” is ridiculous and disingenuous, in my opinion. @Anonymous (June 29, @12:22AM)—One doesn’t need to be from “entitled heights from which they issue judgment” to voice concerns about harassing, intimidating, uncivilized, and/or violent encounters they’ve had with a subset of this group (I know, I know, it’s not the “kids’” fault, the little ones are simply being provoked). Also, it’s absurd how you totally disregard other people’s negative experiences and somehow make this an opportunity to criticize the NYPD. Lastly, your logic just doesn’t add up: If we extended your view (i.e. “most street confrontations start with both provocation and response) to crime in general, it would suggest that, in “most” cases, there are no REAL victims of crime just a whole lot of people who “tango” too much.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anom 12:18, now sober.

Like Anom 12:22, in the 20 some years they've been coming to the EV, the crusties never bothered me, or even asked me for a dime. That's probably because I'm 6'3" and don't look too friendly, and I suspect it's the same with 12:22.

However, a few years ago my wife was asked for $ - unbeknownst to me at the time, that happened a lot, and she'd always give them some.

Anyway, that day she offered a buck, the a-hole said he wanted 5. She refused (kindly) and he got in her face and called her a "yuppie c**t:, right in front of our toddler aged daughter.

My wife, unlike these fools, is from NYC and grew up in a broken, and horribly abusive home, yet she's never bothered anyone. Ever. Despite what Anom 12:22 thinks, she did NOT deserve that. And the only reason I didn't go back and tap dance on that punk's head was because she asked me not to.

In fact, the only reason I know about it, is because our kid was so upset I insisted on knowing what happened.

So, all you posters saying we should worry about what they're called or implying it's even partially my wife's, or any other victim's, fault need a lesson in reality.

As far as I'm concerned they're a just another street gang who get off bullying those who they can intimidate.

screw em

BJ said...

I'm just shy of 9 years, so am I gentrifying scum or a cranky old-timer?

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Wiki defines trolling as sowing discord on the Internet by trying to start arguments and provoke readers into an emotional response. Congratulations, Andrea. That was some world class trolling.

Anonymous said...

To Anom who last wrote at 1:56, I know Andrea works with young ladies that like your wife would not respond like that to any help and unfortunately came from similar homes. I would continue to support the work The Space does just for her or anyone like her. I would not decide not to because she is friends with others that behave badly. They may be the only friends she has here that are homeless and she needs to survive. That goes for all the others as well.

Bobby said...

What a sh*tty, ignorant, dogpile. All of you commenting about these kids like you know anything about them need to STFU. I used to hang out with "traveling kids", and there's a whole lot of backgrounds you'd rather not know. Want to put down the 16 year old punk runwaway whose father raped her? Go ahead. How about the gay punk runwaway whose dad kicked his ass and then threw him out? Yeah, lump him in with everyone else you know nothing about. Seriously, you all might as well join the klan and start burning some crosses, because this is the most ignorant bull I've heard since hearing klan members.

Teacher said...

I am a teacher and work with Andrea, her dedicated staff and her clients. I assist with whatever the staff and clients need and strongly support their efforts to help transition their clients get off the streets and better their lives. I also offer the GED tutoring and college preparation. I can’t say it’s easy, but neither is anything in life that’s complex. I understand your sympathy for the dogs. For me it started that way. Before I met Andrea, I would check in with a couple that owned a dog. In the process of checking in to see if the dog was okay, I got to know the couple and then before I knew it, everyone was being checked on. I thought I knew the answers on how to get them off the street. As a teacher I know the system is not always effective, but I didn’t realize how difficult it really is and I initially didn’t understand the obstacles they faced. That is why I later joined forces with Andrea.
I am not happy to hear that some people have had negative interactions with some people that may or may not be our clients. I never had a negative experience with any but I’ve walked beside them and received negative reactions from people in the community that were not provoked. I can also say that after many conversations with our clients that most of them do come from abusive or unstable homes as stated before. Living on the streets at 8 years old should make you realize without me having to get into details that home was not a safe place to be. I also know that their dogs have also escaped abusive situations too. Some were abandoned, tied to a pole, some were bait dogs for dog fights and yes most are pitbulls. If you are an animal rights activist, you would know that most dogs at the local ACC that are getting put down are pitbulls. I am a mom to a rescue dog that was abused. With that said I would not support people who abuse animals. Furthermore, Andrea refers our clients to other organizations that work with dogs that offer training classes and vet care.
The goal is for people to better understand, not make excuses. It is okay to disagree, but hope you are open to learn more. Also, assumptions and generalizations don’t solve problems, just brew them.

Anonymous said...

My father beat me up, threme out and i went to college on scholarship, i didnt harrass nice people in the park due to my own addictions. Instead of focusing on hoe downtrodden these "kids" are, try focusing on how uplifting people in the community besides them are.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of us are so critical because we are close to this demographic and do not see the excuse for aggressive and violent behahavior. In the punk community, we used to call this contingent "Gutter Punks". And some of my best friends were from that scene and lived in the squats. Somehow, that term turned in to "Crusties" and plenty of people that I know enjoyed using the term to describe themselves. And the group was still perfectly fine. However, over the last 5 years or so (of the 20 that I have lived in this neighborhood), they have gotten really mean and violent and that is what the community is speaking to. I don't believe that most of us are judgemental about lifestyle choices, addiction issues, fleeing home, difficult histories and circumstances, etc. But we are and have always been judgemental of people who act like jerks and take their personal agendas out on other people--whether it be gangs, yuppies, amoral developers, etc. We are a community. We have that right. And it's really insulting to be countered in that regard with retorts like "You just don't understand." A lot of us understand firsthand and that is why we're so upset.

rob said...

I believe I was once pickpocketed by a "traveling kid" (pocketwatch with great sentimental value) but I don't generalize that all of them are pickpockets or all of them are abusive. I don't doubt that others have been abused by them, but many of these comments sound prejudicial. I'm impressed with the intensity of the hatred. I never saw them abuse a dog, so maybe I'm not paying attention. I'm more worried by the Shaouls and Singers and Bloombergs of the world than by a bunch of uncouth kids. If Andrea can do some good with them, that's better than just reviling them.

Harrison said...

I'm not even going to try to respond to all of the ignorance I've just read in these comments, but here are a few things to note:

1. Andrea isn't asking anything more of us than to NOT use the term "crusties." She's not asking you to donate to her organization, or give money to the homeless, or even like them. She's asking you to not use an unwanted, derogatory term to refer to a group of people in our community.
2. Your sob stories about being harassed by homeless kids, fake homeless kids, or otherwise are irrelevant to Andrea's point. If you think being harassed or robbed by an individual who belongs to a group entitles you call that group by slur, you are wrong. Is it ok to refer to all black people as f-ing n-words because you were robbed by a black person? No. (I hope to god we can all agree on THIS!)
3. I've worked with the homeless youth population before, and sure, there are some who are "choosing" to live on the streets instead of at home. But they make up a tiny percentage of an otherwise abused, neglected, and overlooked population. Again, judging a whole group by the actions of a few is wrong. Some women lie about being raped. Should we disregard all claims of rape because they are the work of lying, conniving bitches? Absolutely not.
4. Some reasons for kids to be living on street include: parents with addictions, parents with mental illness, physical abuse at home, mental abuse at home, sexual abuse at home, parents not accepting of them being LGBTQ,family is homeless, limited resources and cultural capital, etc.
5. Sure, many people in the world survive these and come out fine. Not all do. We all deal with things differently.
6. If you feel wronged by an individual homeless person in the East Village, be mad at that individual. Don't take your anger out on an entire population of people whose stories you assume to know.
7. Most of you have very strong opinions, and yet you write as "Anonymous." Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Another anecdote from The Crusty Annals: when a band of them joined the camp down at Occupy Wall Street, the entire dynamic of the camp changed, and for the worse. They became a separate subgroup who used the space for their own needs, food, cigarettes, camp space, and contributed little or nothing to the movement besides creating loud violent confrontations with other OWS participants. It was the Crusty population which the media used to mis-portray OWS as a bunch of homeless moochers, and to a large extent it worked, as the media coverage turned from mostly positive to very negative within days of the crustys taking over ever larger parts of Zucotti park by the day. Eventually the main Ocuupy organizers had to cut them off of food unless they agreed to help clean up, and some became part of the Saniation crew, but the problems only grew with their numbers and it wasn't long before many were pictured in the news as the face of OWS. Granted, Occupy had its own share of major internal issues to work out, but the crusties just made it that much worse and helped the city to turn the public against a promising movement. The crusties proved weren't at all imterested in being with the 99%, they were a miniscule decimal percentage unto themselves whose only accomplishment was to help screw up the very movement that could have helped them the most.

Anonymous said...

The problem in these comments is all the generalizations. Each person living on the street, even if for a short time, is a unique person in a difficult circumstance. Wanting to generalize is a nature human tendency, but is the root of many of our prejudices. I chose to deal with people one at a time, and based on our interactions. Doesn't mean I don't also have prejudices, but I try to recognize them and not to allow them to cloud what I think about the person in my presence. I find it a better way to go through life with an open mind. Enough with the labels...including crustys, hipsters, B and Ts, etc.. except if you're making a joke of course.

Anonymous said...

Pretty hilarious that the same people who are commenting about how they do not like the homeless kids who get rowdy, rude, in your face and who don't take proper care of their pitbulls, are also going after the selfless actions that Andrea is doing to get these kids off the streets, out of your face and no longer a burden to your life. The travler community has plenty of bad seeds, and many travler kids themselves know this. This is why you don't generalize all of them. Not all of them are kids doing this because it looks cool. Rich or poor, plenty of these young adults have been on the streets since their early teens due to physical or emotional problems. They come to New York/east coast in the warmer months and travel elsewhere when it's cold. This isn't some tribal community specifically targeting to be a burden to New York City(You think New Yorks travler problem sucks, I'd really hate to see all of you in Portland, San Francisco, the midwest where) No ones holding a gun to your head, forcing you to sympathize with them or help them. And those who ARE violent, abusive and disrupting SHOULD be held accountable. But to generalize every homeless kid and then go after the services that no ones forcing you to donate to to help lessing the problem you hate so much to begin with is absurd.

Giovanni said...

Correction: Travelers are people who actually travel, like tourists and adventurers and people with passports. Crusties are people who sit at Starbucks outdoor tables all day smoking and drinking mysterious yellow liquids out of giant plastic bottles, drugging in the bathroom while you wait forever to go, and staring at your purses and iPhones. Please make a note of this to avoid any confusion, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I just read through all the comments. It took awhile. Personally, I haven't had any issues with these kids. But I also understand what people are saying who have had negative experiences and can believe that they happened. A particularly bad incident or experience can really turn someone off - and even more so when apparently there is a pattern that allows these already negative views to be reinforced. I do think what Andrea is doing is admirable. I agree that asking to stop calling this group by a certain term (i.e., crusties) would invariably influence thinking but probably seems more like proselytizing in the end. I also really came away feeling more confused than certain about what the reality is. The truth is probably somewhere in between -- and no doubt has considerable complexity. It is amazing though how many comments emerged from this discussion -- which probably strongly leans towards the conclusion that this issue needs to be dealt with in some larger holistic way than merely as opinions expressed in a message board which in itself is a great starting point and starting point for looking for the answer. Andrea, I think that's where you can benefit from this feedback you are getting on here. It's not all homogeneous.

Anonymous said...

Why I do not like my local crusties....


A crustie couple recently started living in a van on 11th street between 1st and second avenue....

1) They spend all day begging for money from union square tourists..
2) Dump littler on the side walk next to their van.
3) Mistreat their pet pit bull
4) Two overdoses this week...
5) From Virginia with cell phones...

I called 911 with the first overdose... any suggestions for getting them back to VIrginia?

Anonymous said...

Throughout all of this, Andrea makes a good point. The group so well illustrated in the comments are not so much crusties as they are addicts, protected by pit bulls. What I find really interesting is that they would NEVER be tolerated in the "good" neighborhoods. End of discussion, and no blog on that.
But we need a name for the "kids" - or do we?
I suggest we don't make them characters in a drama. Let's not call the group anything other than unemployed junkies.
That makes it all real. Any junkie will tell you that they are special and unique.
Everyone happy?

Anonymous said...

Right but you'll pay 30 bucks to drag all your old relatives down to the Tenament Museum to pat yourselves on the back at how heroic and tough your tribe all was on its CRUSTY Heroic origins of true grit and determination.

Hearing these jealous abusers go at these kids just reflects back onto them. This is a Democracy last I checked. You don't like someones lifestyle? You want to tell all 8-12 million people in New York you set the standard.Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Following your logic (?) what New York needs is 8-12 million unemployed junkies lying on the streets to celebrate democracy. Really, "jealous abusers" is too stupid to respond to.

Billsville said...

If you look up the word "incoherent" in the dictionary, there's a picture of Anonymous right next to it, and it turns out he's a crusty too. I'd really like to know if all these crusty-lovers spend half as much of their time and energy helping out the rest of the much larger homeless population in NY, or if they just like having characters who look like extras from a Zombie movie and who constantly and loudly accost people and each other living in their neigborhood? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the area and hung out with some of the better crusties. Lots of them are assholes, and some are poser rich kids. Though the vast majority have histories of poverty, sexual abuse, and addiction in the home. From someone who knows them, most of them are really unfortunate cases. Also, the wealthy imposters usually hang out in their own group.

Echidna's Arf 77 said...

Perfect!! I love it. That's EXACTLY the attitude of so many that believe the E.V. is some type of hallowed ground and only the "real,hardcore " types deserve to live here . So good,so funny and so RIGHT. BRAVO man!

Echidna's Arf 77 said...

Well said. Thank you

Anonymous said...

I like how all the people who post Anonymous have the dickiest shit to say. You big brave brave souls talking shit to the lady who runs a non-profit to help people while you all masturbate to your trust funds and mommy bought condos. Fucking pathetic. Let's all bash on the runaways that got to old for youth programs. Yes let's put down the people running away from their Meth addict parents. How fun. Let's talk shit about kids that are running from domestic abuse and sickening poverty! Seriously - you don't get where they got because your life was wonderful. I seriously hope the next time your down, someone you hate passionately kicks you straight in teeth. I hope your ex shows up to the bar you hang at with someone far better looking than you. I hope the next line of coke you do costs you your job. And it's always the idiot transplants that have the biggest mouths.

Anonymous said...

I have to add to all the pussies who are being "bullied in their own neighborhood" chances are you will be bullied wherever you go. Chances are you complain wherever you yo go. Chances are you came to New York and wanted it to be like the safe little suburb you grew up in. Nut the fuck up losers.