City officials have announced an effort to clear homeless encampments from the streets of NYC — and to connect those inhabiting them with much needed social services.
“This effort is about taking care of our people and our public spaces because no New Yorker deserves to live on the street,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “We are breaking down siloes and working together across government to keep New Yorkers safe and our streets clean. These are basic expectations we have for our city, and we are going to deliver.”
A spokesperson from the Mayor’s office told ILTUWS that the multi-agency initiative consists of a two-week “blitz” to cover an estimated 150 locations across NYC. The Department of Social Services, the New York Police Department, the Department of Sanitation and the Parks Department are all working hand in hand, visiting encampments to offer shelter and services to residents. Each visit is prefaced with a 24-hour notice, and NYPD officers are equipped with body cameras throughout the engagement.
“We’re going to rid the encampments off our street and we’re going to place people in healthy living conditions with wraparound services,” said Mayor Adams in a New York Times interview on Friday. When asked about a timeline for his plan, the Mayor responded said he was looking to do it within a two week period.
The first notices were posted at homeless encampments on Thursday, March 17. We’re told that during a typical visit, a team will offer to connect any person who appears to be living on the street with social services, including shelter or other housing options. Once vacated, the next step is cleaning up the public space. The first encampment visits began on March 18.
Not everyone agrees that breaking up encampments is the right plan of action. “Sweeps and policing are not the answers to unsheltered homelessness,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless in an interview with Gothamist. “Without expanding access to the types of shelters and housing people want and need, Mayor Adams’ latest initiative will fail to address the reasons people sleep on the streets and will harm an already vulnerable community.”
The Mayor’s office noted that once all homeless sites have been addressed in this initial face, a reinspection process and a recanvassing of the five boroughs will follow.