Dear Neighbor,

Are you noticing more homeless people in your community? Among reasons for this: Warmer weather draws people out of shelters and onto the streets where there are fewer rules and no curfew. And because of Covid-19, the NYC Department of Homeless Services has been moving thousands out of shelters, where social distancing is impossible, into hotel rooms — often in some of the city’s more pricey ZIP codes. It’s become a showdown in certain neighborhoods. We spoke to Cari Feingold, a clinical social worker who has counseled homeless populations, on how to try to diffuse the tension. Her advice: 

What to give. Whether to give money is always a question people have. Feingold advises against it. Instead, she suggests providing personal hygiene products like deodorant, cleansing wipes and tampons and sanitary pads, which can be especially hard to come by. The travel section at stores like Target and CVS are good for stocking up.

Resources. Consider creating a card listing local food kitchens, community fridges, mental health and detox clinics, and Covid testing locations. Keep several with you and hand them out. “You can only want for someone as much as they want for themselves. It’s all about being empowered,” Feingold told us. “Giving somebody a McDonald’s sandwich is not empowering. Giving someone a list of resources they can call? That’s empowering.” 

Who is that, Mama? How to explain the new neighbors to children? Come from a place of empathy. Explain that being homeless doesn’t make you a bad person, and it’s not a choice. If you come across somebody using drugs, Feingold suggests being honest: The person is sick, and what they are doing is bad for their body and illegal.

Consider carrying Narcan. There are nearly 80,000 homeless people in New York City. The vast majority also suffer from issues such as mental illness and substance abuse. Fentanyl, a powerful and deadly synthetic opiate often lacing cocaine and heroin, is responsible for many overdose deaths in New York City. Naloxone, more commonly known by the brand name Narcan, is a nasal spray that helps reverse an opioid overdose. New Yorkers can secure Naloxone free of charge from community organizations and participating pharmacies, and several organizations offer free training on how to effectively use it. 

What if you feel threatened? If you see someone who appears to be a danger to themselves or others, Feingold recommends contacting the police and letting them know you are calling in regards to an emotionally disturbed person (EDP). That way, she said, they will send an ambulance and bring the individual to the hospital to be assessed. 

And most importantly, be sympathetic

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Uptown bounce: The Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio and the Africa Center present a virtual version of their annual block party, hosted by hip-hop pioneer and filmmaker Fab 5 Freddy. Also featuring sets by DJ AQ, dance performances, talks with museum curators and a virtual tour of East Harlem. The event will stream live on the museum’s Facebook page tomorrow, August 19, at 7 p.m. No registration required. 

Bowling is back: Dust off your shoes; as of yesterday, bowling alleys are officially allowed to reopen in New York City at 50 percent capacity. 

Tragedy and resilience: The New York Historical Society just unveiled “Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine.” Curated by poet and journalist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman, the exhibit features photographs and audio interviews collected in April throughout all five boroughs. It runs through November in the historical society’s courtyard, with text and audio in both English and Spanish. Free, but reserve timed-entry tickets in advance.
Photo courtesy of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club

Get in the Gowanus: OK, not in the infamously polluted canal but on it. The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club offers free (donations accepted) self-guided canoe trips on the canal every Wednesday and Saturday. Learn more.

In bloom: Brooklyn Botanical Garden is officially open to the public, with roses, water lilies and meadow flowers among the blooms currently in season. Advance tickets are required, but the first few weeks are pay if you can. 

Curry on: Times are tough. Supplemental unemployment benefits expired on July 25, and with Congress on vacation, it doesn’t look like more relief is on the immediate horizon. Short Stories bar and cafe in the East Village wants to help. Every Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m., it’s offering pay-what-you-can bowls of vegan curry. Not struggling and want to support the effort? Check out the full menu

A conversation about race: The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum is hosting a series of talks on race. Tomorrow, August 19, at 6 p.m, Matthew Reilly of City College will be discussing early modern racial constructs in his lecture “Whiteness, Slavery, and the Making of Race in the Atlantic World.” The event is free; register in advance. 

Eat summer tomatoes: This is really just a PSA from us, reminding you that it’s tomato season and well, summer tomatoes are transcendent. We highly recommend checking the nearest farmers’ market, grabbing a bunch of local tomatoes and making this panzanella salad. Or just eat them raw like apples. 

Slurp in the Slope: Been meaning to try something new to eat in your hood? Now through August 28, more than 40 local restaurants are taking part in the third annual Dine in Park Slope. They offer discounts, freebies and prix fixe menu options; no ticket required. Check out the complete list of participating restaurants and deals here

Pandemic pets: The idea is certainly more tempting now. Join Animal Care and Control (ACC) adoption supervisors tonight at 6 p.m. for a webinar covering everything you need to know before adopting. Registration required.

We will be devoting a subsequent edition of Epicenter-NYC to pets. Tell us the backstory of your furry (or scaly, slimy) friend. Send us a pic. What do you wish you knew before adopting? What questions do you have? Let us know 


Small-business grants available: Citizens Committee for New York City has launched a Neighborhood Business Grants initiative. The grants, between $5,000 and $10,000, prioritize people of color, immigrants, women and others who struggle with access to banking systems and traditional methods of financial support. Eligible businesses include barber shops, food carts, vegetable stands and many others. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more and apply.

Con Ed compensation: Did you lose electricity in Tropical Storm Isaias? Con Ed is offering reimbursement of more than $500 to the hundreds of thousands of customers without power for more than 48 hours, resulting in spoiled food and medication. Claims must be filed within 30 days of the outage. 

PSE&G compensation: PSE&G customers who lost power for more than 72 hours after Isaias are eligible for $250. Learn more and file your claim.

An eviction update: A moratorium on evictions, which originally lapsed on June 20, has officially been extended through October 1. This means New Yorkers cannot legally be evicted before then. 

En otros idiomas también: New York City just launched a tenant resource portal in more than 10 languages. The information is designed to help renters navigate available resources to secure their housing situation, with the goal of preventing eviction. View it here. 
Photo: Sumathi Reddy


Leave the teeming masses at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Teatown Lake Reservation in nearby Ossining — also part of Westchester — is less crowded and even lovelier. The 1.5-mile lakeside loop  — which features sections of a floating bridge/boardwalk — is the most popular trail. But I recommend trying the nearly 4-mile, three lakes loop (orange), or do a little of both. To shorten the three lakes trail, start clockwise on the southern part of the loop. Quickly you will pass Vernay and then Shadow Lake, which you will have to yourself (except for a flock of ducks, who may beg for your lunch scraps). At about the halfway mark, you will intersect with the lakeside loop (blue) and you can take the floating bridge back to your starting point. Keep your eyes out for turtles, birds and other wildlife.

LAST WORD  We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.

Photo: Linda Ganjian

This week, we welcome Linda M. Ganjian, a Queens-based artist who works in a variety of materials, including clay, cement and paper. Her main pursuit has involved making large “tabletop” sculptures, composed of hundreds of miniature forms, that are a reinterpretation of Middle Eastern and American craft traditions (carpets, quilts, calligraphy). Much of her work presents memories and impressions of the urban landscape, the specific history of a site or more personal narratives. Visit Ganjian’s website and Instagram page for more of her work. 

Photo: Linda Ganjian‘7 Train Panoramas’, 72″ wide x 48″ deep x 12″ high

Clay, paint, varnish, archival board, glue, wood“7 Train Panoramas” is a sculptural interpretation of the rooftop architecture visible from the 7 train, organized into a quilt-like structure. The forms (made from clay and painted paper-board) reflect the haphazard array of satellite dishes, antenna, skylights, vents, barbed wire, graffiti, etc., she says, “that mark the landscape my eyes glaze over on my daily commute.” 

This newsletter was written by Danielle Hyams, with contributions from Sumathi Reddy. Photographs and design by Nitin Mukul and editing by Robin Cabana and Faye Chiu. Did you like it or find it useful? Tell a friend to sign up. Support our vendors, freelancers and efforts by making a donation to our tip jar.