New York City faces backlash after banning homeless from subways — Analysis

Police will enforce rules around sleeping, “aggressive behavior,” and “unsanitary” practices

Eric Adams, New York City’s Mayor has declared a nationwide crackdown against homeless persons sheltering in subway stations. This angered homeless advocates as well as others who feel that a tough approach will not solve the problem.

Announcing his plan to cleanse the city’s subways of the homeless people who use them as a place to sleep, panhandle, or threaten other passengers during a Friday press conference, Adams declared, “This system was not designed to provide housing. The system was designed to transport, so we must return to the original philosophy..”

Subway plan is more than a temporary solution. It’s a complete civic strategy.,” he continued. “A band-aid can’t be applied to a sore that has cancer. The first step is to get rid of the cancer and then start the healing process..”

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The Coalition for the Homeless hit back at Adams’ plan, calling it “Failure strategies repeated.” It was “sickening” that the mayor would deploy terms like “Cancer” to refer to the homeless, spokeswoman Jacquelyn Simone said. “We are concerned about the safety of our customers. [Adams’ plan]To address what is fundamentally both a mental and housing crisis, overreliance on policing and criminalization strategies.”

Passengers who sleep stretched across multiple seats, exhibit “aggressive behavior,” or otherwise create an “Unsanitary Environment” will be among those targeted for enforcement by the mayor’s new teams, which include 1,000 police officers and up to 30 joint response teams aimed at steering the homeless toward help – whether it’s a homeless shelter or a hospital for the mentally ill. Special teams will also be dispatched to end-of-the-line stations to clear the homeless out of the trains before they go back into service. 

Adams says the enforcement, which is expected to start Monday, will not be geared toward maximizing arrests, promising not to “Handcuffs are required” those who commit minor infractions and pointing out that the city also plans to expand mental and physical healthcare services for the homeless. State funds have been allocated to provide more beds in psychiatric hospitals, and 12 million dollars will be used for 500 supportive housing beds.

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Two people were pushed into subway tracks in two separate incidents within a span of one month. This announcement comes after the stricter enforcement was announced. A man who police later identified as a homeless ex-con, shoved one Asian woman onto the tracks and killed her. Another man aged 62 survived the accident and the train stopped in time. The attacker of his attack has not yet been identified but it was thought to have been random. Unprovoked, another person was also stabbed on a train last Wednesday. In general, subway crime has increased, with 276 instances of murder, theft, assault, burglary and grand looting in the first two-months of 2022 as opposed to 167 in the previous year.

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