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Mary House in New York City is run by the Catholic Worker, an organization dedicated to helping he poor and to setting an example of decent Christian living. They concern themselves less with helping a women move on to an independent life-style than allowing her to function as best as she can in a sheltered environment. Anyone may partake of the meals, clothing and medical care offered without question or requirements. Housing is offered on a more permanent basis, so there is only a small turnover and very few vacant beds.

Other shelters have more stringent requirements for admittance In order to get into the Womenís Shelter run by the city of New York, a woman must not have any funds available and must answer detailed questions about her past life and management. Alcohol and disruptive "acting out" is not allowed although this shelter is meant to service primarily alcoholic and mentally disturbed women. In order to receive services, a woman must go through the social work admittance interview, comply with many rules and regulations, allow her bags to be checked, take a compulsory shower, and submit to a medical exam and psychiatric interview. Many women refuse to go through these procedures which they perceive as invasive and humiliating.

Public Assistance often places many women in rooming houses or specially designated hotels. These rooms range from minimally acceptable to flagrantly violating all health codes. Heat may be sporadic, plumbing broken, paint peeling off the walls, locks left broken and hallways uncleaned and unguarded. Tenants are at the mercy of a landlord who is often absent, and whose main interest is in maintaining maximum profits at lowest expenditure. Without the advocates or the ability to find legal help, residents must endure the conditions of these rooms as they find them. Women are particularly vulnerable in this housing. They are often placed without supervision or protection among former inmates, addicts, mental patients, and transients with whom they must share bathroom and kitchen facilities. As usual the most defenseless are easy prey to the robberies and assaults that many times go unreported in these rooms. For these reasons some women feel they are safer outside on the streets.

Yet even these rooms, inadequate as they may be, are becoming more and more scarce. Landlords who once found it lucrative to fill their vacant hotels and rooming houses with referrals from welfare are now finding it even more profitable to convert these residences into housing for the middle class. Lured by the opportunity to make solid economic investments, these landlords were encouraged by city officials and block associations, who welcome this chance to clean up their neighborhoods. They perceived the deterioration of these neighborhoods as having been brought on by the influx of large numbers of ex-mental patients and welfare recipients who filled the hotels. This has resulted in the displacement of the urban poor who were managing on subsistence levels in the rooms that are now being converted to expensive apartments or torn down altogether. Dislocation of residents already at the bottom of the economic bracket has meant an increase in the numbers of people who could make no other "adjustments" but to turn to living on the streets. Urban renewal efforts impact significantly on the loves of the most disadvantaged. Cities are faced with Hobsonís choice of developing neighborhoods or displacing the poor.

Those lucky enough to find decent housing in a hotel must then cope with the difficulties of making do with the small amount of money they have leftover after paying the rent. If there are no cooking facilities, and this is not unusual, a woman must find a way to stretch her budget to cover eating in restaurants carfare and all other necessities. Providing all goes smoothly she may be able to get by. Too often, checks donít show up, arguments develop with the landlord over her room, emotional problems intensify, or she is unable to budget her check and runs out of money.

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