The COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the four homeless shelters on Wards Island in New York City as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio refuse to test, isolate and treat our houseless family. According to The City, “As of Monday, 120 residents across 60 city shelter locations had contracted COVID-19. Four have died.” There is no social distancing in the shelters. There is no COVID-19 testing, isolating and treating in the shelters. In one homeless shelter on Wards Island there is plenty of unused empty space on three floors that could be immediately used for social distancing and isolating.

HELP USA is the operator of the four homeless shelters on Wards Island. It was created in 1986 by Andrew Cuomo himself while his sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

If they are the operator, why have they done next to nothing to save the people’s lives they are entrusted with, except to put up a few flyers? The price of inaction is death.

I called HELP USA at 212-400-7000 and got a voice message that gave me another number: 845-764-3275. A person named Cynthia picked up the phone and I told her about the situation on Wards Island. Her first response was “The office is closed and I can have someone call you back”. I said, “I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the situation”

“I don’t work with Wards Island so I can’t do anything”, said Cynthia

And then after I raised my voice telling her that people will die she said,

“I will send an email out to all staff”.

The following pictures show open garbage bins and a bag on the floor spilling out garbage in this shelter, as well as a client walking barefoot and a shelter employee who is pregnant.

The disregard of human life by Cuomo, DeBlasio, HELP USA and the New York City Department of Homeless Services is astounding. They want them to die. As one client told me, “It’s a death sentence. For real.”

All photos were taken April 2, 2020.

Sign the petition that sends an email directly to Cuomo, DeBlasio and HELP USA CEO Tom Hamerline.


  1. It is obvious that the establishment has the MEANS to provide for everyone, but only has the will to serve the ultrarich. No more. The establishment must bow to the will of THE PEOPLE, and we choose to care for one another – especially in a global pandemic! Homes Guarantee for ALL – free healthcare for ALL – INCLUDING vulnerable unhoused people!

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