NYC opens safe haven site in the South Bronx for homeless New Yorkers

March 30, 2022

Mayor Eric Adams announces the opening of the Morris Avenue Safe Haven site in the Bronx. Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Mayor Eric Adams announced on Tuesday the opening of the Morris Avenue Safe Haven site in the Bronx. The new facility will expand shelter access with 80 beds as well as offer on-site medical, mental health, and substance abuse services to New Yorkers who need them. The new facility is part of Adams’ Subway Safety Plan to add 500 low-barrier beds for homeless New Yorkers, with 350 of them to be made available this week.

The city’s recent focus on street homelessness–accompanied by a new initiative to remove homeless New Yorkers from street encampments–has attracted controversy, sparked by concern that those removed from the street won’t be able to find safe places to sleep.

As Gothamist reports, homelessness and housing advocates have criticized the sweeps and policing of street homeless, concerned that they’ll be made even more vulnerable.

“We are glad that Mayor Adams is opening new Safe Haven and stabilization beds, as homeless New Yorkers and advocates have long called for. These low-barrier beds were already in the pipeline prior to this administration, and thousands more must be brought online as quickly as possible to begin to meet the need,” Jacquelyn Simone, the policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement in response to Adams’ announcement.

“But we repeat that policing and sweeps are harmful, counterproductive strategies that can actually push unsheltered homeless people further away from services, and clearing encampments is in direct violation of CDC guidance. Without offering homeless New Yorkers a better place to go, these are cruel public relations tactics that do not address the real problem, nor will they reduce unsheltered homelessness on our streets and subways.”

Safe havens help to address these concerns with small-scale, low-barrier programs created specifically to address the unique needs of unsheltered homeless who aren’t willing or able to be served by traditional transitional housing. They offer smaller physical settings, on-site services, and compassionate workers who try to help stabilize lives and encourage eventual transition to permanent housing.

“The opening of the Morris Avenue Safe Haven, and others like it, will provide unhoused New Yorkers a place to live, heal, and be cared for. Not only are we offering safe spaces to those experiencing homelessness, but we’re offering New Yorkers second chances,” Adams said in a statement.

“The 80 beds at this location will be a part of the 500 beds opening in the coming weeks. Instead of trapping New Yorkers in a labyrinth of despair, we are making sure those who have been lost are found again by providing a path to stability, long-term housing, lasting community, and common purpose.”

The shelter provider Care for the Homeless will be operating a Federally-Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) at the site as well. The full-service licensed health center will offer primary health care and behavioral health care to the site’s residents and anyone in the area who needs it.


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