Currents News Staff
More than 400 hypodermic needles were found in a homeless encampment. It’s something Mayor Eric Adams wants to clean up by removing the encampments completely.
“We’re not throwing people off the street,” said Mayor Adams. “Let’s be clear here, you have a right to sleep on the street, you don’t have a right to build a miniature house.”
So a new task force has been hitting the streets and so far, it’s dismantled nearly 250 of these sites as they try to get the most vulnerable New Yorkers into shelters. But it’s not just any shelter, more of a safe haven. It will not only offer a warm bed, but also toiletries, a locker, food and access to a health care center on site.
A big hurdle that isn’t going to be easy: convincing the homeless to go there.
“There’s a lack of trust,” the mayor said.
It’s also a big job. According to the Coalition For The Homeless, roughly 48,400 homeless people rely on city shelters each night.
That’s significantly higher than the city’s official count, which last winter, estimated the Big Apple’s homeless population at just 2,300 people.
Altogether, the coalition says more than 10,000 families and nearly 19,000 individual adults sleep in the city’s main shelter system every night.
So far, no families have been found in these encampments – some of which are underground.
As New Yorkers start to return to the office, many are back in the subways.
“It’s basically become, you know, the world’s largest mobile homeless rescue operation,” one commuter said.
Not everyone feels safe.
“Seeing homeless more than ever inside the train,” another commuter said, “it’s very dangerous.”
In the end, the city is hoping this initiative will be a win-win for everyone.
“We must ensure that our public places are safe,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, “that they are accessible to all and that everyone in need of a suitable place to stay has access to one.”
After the first seven days of clearing the encampments, only about five people agreed to go to a safe haven shelter.
The mayor says he’s confident that number will go up once the workers gain the trust of the homeless.