Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul recently unveiled a new plan aimed at fighting crime, addressing homelessness and cleaning up the city's subway system in the next few months.
The effort has been a long time coming as New Yorkers have been dealing with violent underground incidents for months now, an issue that most acutely affects the homeless population and those suffering from mental illness.
"Going forward, we will no longer give an option to exist in the system in this way," the mayor, a former transit police officer, said during the presentation of the new plan at the Fulton Street subway hub. "The system is not made to be housing, it's made to be transportation. And we have to return back to that basic philosophy. If someone is in physical or emotional distress, we can't leave them on the train, for their own safety and the safety of others. That's a betrayal. We must intervene and get help."
The effort officially kicked off today and it involves 30 inter-agency collaborative teams formed by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and community-based providers in "high-need" locations.
You can read through the entire plan right here but here are some of the most important points:
- Teams will be dispatched to enforce the MTA's code of conduct. Although subway riders are not allowed to panhandle, use drugs, smoke, carry belongings in large shopping carts, sleep or shelter within the system, the guidelines haven't been properly enforced in recent times. Over 1,000 police officers have now been deployed at high-priority stations to monitor the situation and carry out the code of conduct.
- "End of line" teams. The new plan calls for reinstating "End of the Line" exits, encouraging everyone on board to leave the station when reaching a line's final stop. The teams, which will roam at final stops and other high-trafficked ones, will also connect those forced to disembark with DHS.
- Health emergency teams. As an expansion of the previously established B-HEARD program, the new plan will will bring into the fold divisions that will be trained to answer non-violent 911 mental health calls.
The new guidelines are expansive and seek to tackle the homelessness issue on multiple fronts—not only by removing individuals from the system but by providing them with the tools necessary to perhaps turn their lives around. It is also clearly an entirely different approach from that carried out by our previous Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been repeatedly criticized for allowing the situation to worsen to the degree we currently have to deal with.
Here's to hoping that the ideas brought forward by Adams and Hochul will help everyone involved.