The MTA To Hire 500 New Officers While The Number Of Train Cleaners Decline

MTA Trash

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.”

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The MTA Turns Surveillance Cameras On The Homeless

HMLSness MTA

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.

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Governor Cuomo Demands That The MTA Deal With Its Homeless Problem

Governor Cuomo

Governor Cuomo recently stated that the issue with homeless people usurping New York City’s train system is “worse than ever.” NYC’s governor also tasked the MTA with solving the problem, stating that the problem is solely under the jurisdiction of the MTA, and “they will be held accountable” for it.

According to CBS News, in a letter to the MTA board of directors issued Friday, Governor Cuomo stated the following about the current situation of homeless New Yorkers proliferating in the subway system: “While crime may reportedly be down on the subways, the number of homeless people is up, and it is directly impacting service to riders.
In 2018, there were 1,771 homeless people living in the subway — that number surged to 2,178 in 2019, an increase of 23%. According to the MTA’s own statistics, trains were delayed 659 times in 2018 by homeless people who were walking on tracks, and engaging in disruptive and often dangerous behavior including blocking train doors—a staggering 54% increase from the 428 homeless related delays in 2014. And that number is getting worse: in the first three months of this year, the MTA reports that there have already been 313 homeless related train delays. Over the last decade, the number of incidents more than tripled, from 254 in 2008 to 856 last year.
New Yorkers are unfortunately accustomed to having homeless issues on the trains and in the terminals during the winter months, but this has now become a year-round phenomenon.”

Governor Cuomo also demanded that the MTA quickly come up with a plan to combat homelessness in their Reorganization Plan, stating: “The Reorganization Plan legally due by the end of July provides the opportunity to not only address the administrative changes but also the protracted issue of homelessness in the MTA, and you should demand that it does and that the plan be compassionate, pragmatic and effective.”

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You Know NYC Has A Serious Drug Problem When…

The City has invested in a widespread marketing campaign, not imploring people not to use drugs, period; but to advertise that people should do drugs “safely.”

Last week, I got on a train that was wallpapered with advertisements in English and Spanish, bearing the NYC logo, that told people: “Every 6 hours a New Yorker dies from an overdose. Carry naloxone. Save a life.” “Avoid Mixing drugs.” “Avoid using alone. If you do, have someone check on you.” “Using cocaine tonight?…Safety Tips: Use with others. Carry naloxone/narcan.”

These ads clearly don’t scream a no tolerance drug-use message, or even a don’t do drugs directive. The ads seem more like an advertisement for naloxone, and permissive illegal drug use.

Can you imagine being a young child reading these befuddling messages on your daily commute? I, like many other NYC born and raised children, enhanced my reading skills daily by reading aloud posted advertisements to my parents during commutes. Can you imagine what kind of messages these ads are implanting in young minds and psyches? SMH!

According to NYC’s website the marketing campaign has a $730,000 price tag. The website also states: “The campaign will run citywide on subways, bus shelters, billboards, LinkNYC kiosks, online in local businesses and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.”

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New York City Transit To Implement A Zero Tolerance Homeless Policy

Homeless 34th Street

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

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How Familiar Are Politicos With The Nuances Of Homelessness?

HMLS 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.

-The Homeless New Yorker

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