In another throw things against the wall to see what sticks strategy to deal with New York City’s serious homelessness problem, the city has reportedly committed to hiring 500 new MTA officers to patrol subway stations and “fix quality of life issues”; meaning homeless people who have taken to the subway system for shelter.
According to The Gothamist, “The hiring will nearly double the number of MTA police, which currently stands at 783.” However, the subway stations are also supposedly patrolled by thousands of NYPD officers. The Gothamist also states, “Good government group Reinvent Albany notes that the city already pays more than 2,500 NYPD officers to patrol subways and buses.”
In the midst of seeking to hire transit officers, the MTA has reportedly cut train cleaning positions. The Transit Workers Union Local 100 has stated that 81 such jobs has been cut (Source: The Gothamist). This is inexplicable because anyone who rides the subways in New York City can attest to the necessity of having more train car cleaners on the job. Also, is cleanliness not directly linked to quality of life issues?
While the city MTA officers and decreases the number of much needed cleaners, the price tag for the new hires will be a hefty one. According to news source, The City, the cost of the aforementioned 500 new hires could “exceed $260 million over four years. That calculation includes the price tag for benefits and the hiring of supervisors.”
New York City had yet to implement a viable solution to its record breaking homelessness problem. It seems as if the city has been vacillating between sitting on their hands to throwing things against the wall and watching nothing stick.
The city’s most recent attempt to cull the homeless presence in the subway system is a collaboration with the police department that is headquartered in a new “Joint Crisis Coordination Center,” located in downtown Brooklyn.
Via the Coordination Center, NYPD officers watch feeds of dozens of surveillance cameras aimed at various subway stations and platforms. This monitoring program allows the police department to spy on homeless people who are occupying spaces in targeted subway stations. When a homeless person is identified, they are reportedly offered social services and/or are issued a summons and removed from the station.
According news source, The City: “NYPD officials declined to identify the stations currently monitored, saying they’re picked based on a history of ‘quality of life’ issues. The stations watched can change, and cameras will be added in areas where needed, officials said.”
Opponents of this big-brother type of surveillance are opining that this approach is encroaching on the civil liberties of the homeless, and is “more stick than carrot.” The city has yet to come up with an effective plan to deal with the expanding affordable housing crisis.
New York City is proposing the implementation of a mandatory Income Savings Program (ISP) for working homeless shelter residents. Under this program all employed New York City homeless shelter residents will be required to deposit 30% of their income into a city-controlled savings account. Failure to do so would reportedly result in eviction from the shelter.
According to City Limits, the shelter residents will only be able to access the aforementioned account 30-45 days after exiting the shelter.
This proposal is ridiculously flawed for a multitude of reasons. Opponents to the proposal recently spoke out at a public hearing regarding the implementation of this program.