Under Mayor Eric Adams’ plan to crack down on street homelessness, the city has cleaned 239 homeless encampments since the program began less than two weeks ago. On Wednesday, the mayor, along with a task force made up of officials from the city’s parks, sanitation, police, and homeless services departments, said the first phase of the city’s effort to remove make-shift shelters from public spaces concluded, with the second phase, which will involve recanvassing the sites identified, beginning tomorrow.
According to the city, the multi-agency task force began the encampment cleanups on March 18. The task force has since identified 244 sites and cleared 239 of them as of Wednesday. Adams said on Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn, city workers cleared 10 separate locations and recovered over 500 hypodermic needles.
“This is so inhumane,” Adams said during a press briefing Wednesday, referring to the living conditions of those in the encampments visited. “As the mayor of all of us, including my homeless brothers and sisters, I’m not leaving any New Yorkers behind. We’re moving together. I’m not abandoning anyone.”
On a typical visit to an encampment, task force members offer to connect those experiencing homelessness with social services. Each visit provides those at the sites a written notice 24 hours in advance. The city says police officers have their body-worn cameras on during the interactions.
According to the mayor, during the effort over the past two weeks, just five people accepted services, which could involve shelter or medical, mental, and substance abuse health care. Adams expects the number of New Yorkers who accept services to increase as trust is built.
In January, the mayor and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced plans to increase police presence throughout the subway system. And last month, Adams announced boost enforcement of certain subway rules to address homelessness throughout the transit system, including the prevention of lying down or sleeping in a way that interferes with others, exhibiting aggressive behavior, spitting, smoking, using drugs, and “using the subway for any purpose other than transportation.”
The plan involves deploying mental health professionals to the system, creating new drop-in centers close to stations, and requiring riders to leave the train at the end of the line. As 6sqft previously reported, the effort came after several high-profile violent incidences involving homeless New Yorkers in the transit system and as officials hope to continue New Yorkers to return to the subway.
According to the mayor, during the first week of the subway safety plan, only 22 people accepted help. As of Wednesday, over 300 people have taken services from the city.
The city on Tuesday announced the opening of the Morris Avenue Safe Haven site in the South Bronx, which will offer 80 beds to those experiencing homelessness. The site is part of the Subway Safety Plan’s plan to include 500 additional low barrier beds; 350 of them will be open this week.
Starting Thursday, task force members will return to encampments that had not been cleared and recanvass areas throughout the city. The city will also hand out brochures to homeless New Yorkers that show photos of what a shelter looks like and information on accessing city services.
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