Last week, New York City’s Transit president told the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board that he has directed station managers to kick out any homeless people who are lying down in the subway stations.
According to The New York Post, the NYC Transit president, Andy Byford, stated, “Having a seat and getting warm is fine, but I will not tolerate them leaving messes or laying across seats.”
Rebutting a board member who stated, “We need to be aware of the many reasons why people are homeless”; the New York Post reported that Mr. Byford “responded that he wasn’t going to let the homeless affect the comfort of his riders.”
The question is, how will this “zero tolerance” policy be implemented, and what will be the resulting effects?
As many New Yorkers are aware, the city’s housing crisis, along with other factors, has unfortunately turned the subway system into a makeshift homeless shelter at night, especially during the winter months. What will happen to the people who are seeking shelter in the subway station after they are expelled? Where will they go instead?
-The Homeless New Yorker
I’m particularly concerned with how knowledgeable politicians who have been tasked with solving social problems are when it comes to the issue of homelessness. I am particularly concerned about this when it comes to New York City; not only because it is my hometown, but because it has exceeded Great Depression levels of homelessness, and local politicos are expressing exasperation when it comes to dealing with this issue. (CLICK HERE to read about NYC’s mayor’s expressed exasperation.”)
In a recent ABC News report on homelessness, the New York City governor’s statements regarding the homeless problem does not convey confidence that he is knowledgeable regarding the nuances of the issue. When asked to address the issue of homeless people using the public train system as a place to sleep, the governor reportedly said the following: “Let’s get real. Let’s get the homeless the help they need. Shelters, mental health, job training et cetera. Second, the New York City Transit Authority is owned by the city and policed by the NYPD. The NYPD used to do this. They need to do this again.”
Based on the aforementioned quote attributed to Governor Cuomo, I wonder if the governor is aware of, or has considered, the following:
• Many people who are “street homeless” are avoiding the city’s dangerous, drug-riddled shelters like the plague.
• Many homeless people don’t need “job training,” or “mental health” assistance. Many of the homeless are employed people whose employment is only threatened by being homeless and living in one of the city’s homeless shelters. I wonder if the governor, and other city politicos, are aware of how homeless shelter protocols, and conditions, threaten so many homeless people’s employment.
• How would NYPD be able to tell the difference between some of the people who are sleeping on the train because they are homeless, and people who are on their way home and have fell asleep on the train after a long day? There are stereotypes about what a homeless person looks like. There are some people who may be deemed perfectly coiffed and groomed who are homeless and sleeping on the train. In the governor’s eyes, does the well-groomed homeless have a right to sleep on the train while the less-groomed homeless don’t? Does the governor suggest that NYPD officers approach anyone on the train who has their eyes shut and ask them if they are homeless, or on their way home; and then expel them from the train based on their answer?
We clearly need politicians who are not so far removed from the issues the city’s citizens are facing. We also need politicos who dedicate, and assemble. the proper brain power to grapple with serious issues.
Homeless New Yorker