NEW YORK — New York City officials are planning to remove makeshift shelters set up by homeless people on city streets, mirroring similar efforts in other liberal metropolises that had previously tolerated the encampments.
The initiative was revealed by Mayor Eric Adams in an interview on Friday with The New York Times, although he provided only a few details. It comes a month after he announced a push to remove homeless people from the city’s sprawling subway system in response to assaults and other aggressive behavior.
“We’re going to rid the encampments off our street and we’re going to place people in healthy living conditions with wraparound services,” he told the Times. “I’m telling my city agencies to do an analysis block by block, district by district, identify where the encampments are, then execute a plan to give services to the people who are in the encampments, then to dismantle those encampments.”
Adams was unable to say the exact location of those living in the camps, but he acknowledged officials could not forbid anyone from going to a shelter. Adams expected that the efforts would begin in two weeks.
“We can’t stop an individual from sleeping on the street based on law, and we’re not going to violate that law,” he said. “But you can’t build a miniature house made out of cardboard on the streets. That’s inhumane.”
In its most recent estimate in January 2021, the city said about 1,100 people were living in parks and on the streets — a number seen by many advocates as an undercount. The shelters are where most of the approximately 50,000 homeless residents live.
Advocates for homeless people have stated that removing street encampments will only result in people moving around from one place to the next.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. are taking steps to eliminate encampments, as well as other measures, that address homelessness in a way unheard of ten years ago.
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