New York mayor pushes to remove homeless from subway | Health and fitness

By MICHELLE L. PRICE – Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is making an aggressive effort to try to remove homeless people from the city’s sprawling subway system, announcing a plan to start banning people from sleeping on trains or take the same lines all night.

The new mayor, at one point likening homelessness to a “cancerous sore,” said Friday the city would deploy more police teams and mental health workers to the transit system next week and begin apply the rules more strictly.

“People tell me about their fear of using the system and we’re going to make sure that fear isn’t the reality of New York City,” Adams said.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who joined Adams at a subway station on Friday to make the announcement, said the city and state cannot recover from the devastation of the pandemic until people not return to their work – and take the metro to get there.

She said the state is working to get more psychiatric beds in hospitals by increasing the amount hospitals receive to have those beds.

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“We know it’s a big problem. But shame on us if this moment in time, if we don’t turn over every stone, let’s find every possible way to deal with this,” Hochul said.

Adams, a former NYPD captain and transit officer who once patrolled underground trains, said the vast majority of homeless people aren’t dangerous. But the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, with more people struggling with job loss and untreated medical and mental health issues, and some of those people are dangerous to themselves and to the public.

Adams called it a complex problem, saying “You can’t put a bandage on a cancerous wound”, but “You have to remove the cancer and start the healing process”.

Shelly Nortz, deputy executive director for policy for the Homeless Coalition, called the mayor’s comment “sickening” and said “criminalizing homelessness” was not the answer.

“Repeating failed neighborhood policing strategies in the past will not end the suffering of homeless people lying in the subway. It is sickening to hear Mayor Adams compare the homeless homeless to cancer. They are human beings,” Nortz said.

Adams spokesman Fabien Levy responded by saying the mayor “made it abundantly clear today that his heart breaks when he sees other New Yorkers sleeping on trains.”

“We are not going to abandon those who are homeless to lives of suffering and pain and we are not going to allow the betrayal of these people to continue any longer. We can help those in need, uphold the law, and restore public confidence in our transit system, all at the same time,” Levy said.

Nortz said the coalition was happy to learn, however, that part of the plan would involve increasing the number of psychiatric beds in hospitals.

As subway ridership has increased during the pandemic, homeless people have become more visible, sometimes sleeping on platforms or multiple seats on a train, which the mayor said contributes to a general sense of ” disorder” in the largest city in the country.

The mayor, who stressed that the appearance of crime and disorder was just as important to combat as the actual crime statistics, said it was unacceptable for the system to allow, in one case, a woman to live under a staircase inside a train station for months. .

“It’s not dignity. It’s disgusting,” he said. “And that’s not who we are as a city.”

In addition to the tens of thousands sleeping in city shelters, countless thousands sleep on city streets and sometimes in subway stations and trains.

Adams announced last month that he was injecting more police into the system, not only getting police on trains but getting other neighborhood patrol officers to spend more time at stations and on streets. docks.

The crackdown has been spurred by a series of violent incidents on the public transport network, including the death of a woman who was pushed to her death in front of a train in January and a new incident on Thursday afternoon, when a man dancing on a train was injured. when he was stabbed twice by another man who then fled.

In the case of Michelle Alyssa Go’s fatal stampede, police say the suspect, Martial Simon, was homeless and had a history of “emotionally disturbed dating”.

Adams encountered incidents himself on his first day as mayor, when he witnessed a fight and at least one person sleeping on a train as he made his way to the city ​​hall by metro.

“Who wants to start their day this way? Of that level of desperation that is right in front of them? the mayor said Friday as he reflected on his first day.

Police statistics show major crime on the subway has fallen over the past two years, but the numbers are hard to compare with ridership numbers which have also fallen.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said from next week, officers from the police department will be joined by mental health officers on the subways. Teams will focus on high traffic areas or areas where there has been an increase in crime reports.

“Trained people will seek to help those in need. We will apply transit rules if necessary, but this is about helping people,” she said.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell’s last name.

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