Ayyyeee…What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves plans made by NYC to curb the homeless that is sheltering on the subways.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York State Govenor Kathy Hochul announced an aggressive plan to deploy police officers and mental health workers into New York City’s subway, pledging to remove more than 1,000 homeless people who shelter there regularly, some of whom have contributed to escalating violence and harassment in the system.
According to officials, there will be a zero-tolerance policy enforced by the hundreds of officers who already patrol the system for people sleeping sprawled across train seats or in stations, or for other violations of the subway’s rules of conduct, including littering, unruly behavior and lingering in a station for over an hour with dozens of mental-health professionals with the power to order the involuntary hospitalization of people who they deem a danger to themselves or others will be added to outreach teams systemwide.
“No more just doing whatever you want,” Adams said at a news conference at a Lower Manhattan subway station. “Those days are over. Swipe your MetroCard, ride the system, get off at your destination. That’s what this administration is saying.”
The plan is aimed at ending the decades-old practice of people using the nation’s busiest transit system for shelter, comes as a spike in violent crime in the system, including several high profile shoving incidents, has made public safety a paramount concern for many riders, with some saying it has caused them to avoid the subway. The plan also comes in the wake of a horrific crime at the Times Square subway station last month, when a 40 year old woman, was pushed in front of a train and a homeless man with a history of schizophrenia was charged with her murder.
The plan also includes changes that are meant to more effectively connect homeless people, many of whom have mentally illness, substance abuse problems or both, to mental health services and permanent housing. The announcement came from not only the mayor and governor, but also the transit agency’s leader, the police commissioner and city and state mental health officials, underscoring the seriousness of the issue and the central role that officials believe the subway will play in reviving the city’s economy.
The city had already increased the number of patrols in the subway this year, deploying 1,000 additional officers to the system in early January.
The plan is supposed to address a frequent complaint from homeless people and their advocates that mere “outreach,” in which a homeless person is typically offered a room in a barrackslike group shelter; an offer that is usually declined is insufficient. The plan calls for the creation of about 500 new beds in private rooms. Police officers will form teams with outreach workers and clinicians that will canvass stations and trains to steer homeless and mentally ill people out of the transit system and toward help, bringing people to hospitals when warranted.
The teams will be up to 30 people will focus on high priority stations and train lines where either ridership or reported crime have increased, the police commissioner, Keechant Sewell said.
The measures build on a state plan announced by Ms. Hochul last month to create similar “Safe Options Support” teams. Taking broader aim at the problem of untreated mental illness, the plan calls for expanding the use of Kendra’s Law, which enables a judge to order someone into outpatient treatment.
The plan also calls on hospitals to increase the number of phsychiatric beds, which some experts say has contributed to the number of people with severe mental illness in the streets and the subway. Hochul said the state would increase Medicaid payments to hospitals for psychiatric beds, and the plan addresses complaints from homeless organizations that hospital emergency rooms refuse to admit some psychiatric patients they find too disruptive, or release them before they are stable or without adequate planning that would keep them from relapsing after being discharged.