Police will enforce rules regarding sleep, ‘aggressive behaviour’ and ‘unsanitary’ practices
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced a system-wide crackdown on homeless people sheltering on the subway, drawing ire from homeless advocates and others who believe that a blunt approach will not solve the problem.
Announcing his plan to clear the city’s subways of homeless people who use them as a place to sleep, beg or threaten other passengers at a press conference on Friday, Adams said: “The system is not meant to be a dwelling. It’s made to be a means of transport, and we have to go back to that basic philosophy..”
“The metro plan is a comprehensive civic strategy that will do more than address a temporary solution,” He continued. “You can’t put a bandage on a cancerous wound, that’s not how you solve the problem. You must remove the cancer and begin the healing process.”
The Coalition for the Homeless hit back at Adams’ plan, calling it “a repetition of failed strategies.” It was “disgustingthat the mayor would deploy terms like,Cancerto refer to homelessness, spokeswoman Jacquelyn Simone said. “We are very concerned that [Adams’ plan] relies excessively on criminalization and policing strategies to deal with what is fundamentally a housing and mental health crisis.”
Passengers who sleep lying on several seats, expose “aggressive behaviour“, or otherwise create a “unsanitary environmentwill be among those targeted by the mayor’s new teams, which include 1,000 police officers and up to 30 joint response teams aimed at directing the homeless to help – whether it’s shelter homeless or a hospital for the mentally ill.Special teams will also be dispatched to terminal stations to evacuate homeless people from trains before they return to service.
Adams says the enforcement, which is expected to begin on Monday, will not be aimed at maximizing arrests, promising not to “put on handcuffsthose who commit minor offenses and pointing out that the city also plans to expand mental and physical health services for the homeless. Some $27.5 million has been set aside by the state for more mental hospital beds, while $12 million will go towards 500 supportive housing beds.
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The announcement of tougher enforcement comes after two people were pushed past tube trains in separate incidents over a month-long period. One, an Asian woman, was pushed onto the tracks in January by a man who police later determined was a homeless ex-con and was killed. The other, a 62-year-old man, survived because the train was able to stop in time; his assailant was not named, although the attack was thought to be random. Another person was stabbed in an unprovoked attack on a train last week. Metro crime in general has soared, with 276 cases of murder, robbery, rape, assault, burglary and robbery in the first two months of 2022 alone, compared to 167 in the same period last year.
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