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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Defends Crackdown on Hundreds of Homeless Encampments

Published: March 30, 2022
NYC Mayor Eric Adams participates in the St. Patrick's Day Parade up 5th Ave. on March 17, 2022 in New York City. The Mayor has formed a task force responsible for clearing out hundreds of homeless encampments across New York. To date 239 of 244 identified homeless encampments have been cleared out. (Image: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, March 30, New York Mayor Eric Adams defended his decision to crackdown and clear out homeless encampments in the city, as a task force set up to address the encampments reported that 239 out of 244 identified homeless encampments have been cleared out over the past two weeks.

“We cannot tolerate these makeshift, unsafe houses on the side of highways, in trees, in front of schools, in parks. This is just not acceptable, and it’s something I’m just not going to allow to happen,” Adams told a room full of reporters during a press conference in Brooklyn. 

“We’re walking past people that are living on cardboard boxes, in these makeshift, inhumane houses, this is not right,” the mayor said, adding that, “There’s nothing dignified about people living in the streets.”

The initiative is part of Adams’ strategy to clean up public spaces and connect people living on the streets with housing and social services. 

The task force began addressing the encampments on March 18, and gave residents of the camps a 24-hour notice to vacate, Adams said at a briefing on Tuesday. Most of the camps were located in lower Manhattan.

The evicted were offered housing options as well as medical and mental health care. Adams said a total of five people from the encampments accepted housing alternatives, a number the mayor says is expected to grow.

“We have a long way to go, but we are getting there,” Adams said.

Adams also took aim at the city’s Human Resources Administration, the city’s largest social welfare agency, decrying its “dysfunction.” 

On March 21, the New York Post revealed that “an estimated 2,500 city-funded apartments for the homeless and needy are sitting empty.”

Adams, apparently learned of the empty beds via reporting in the city stating, “I wake up every day and read the paper, some of my best ideas come from some of the good reporting in the city.”

Another program, addressing homeless individuals living in New York’s subway system, has garnered some success with more than 300 people having accepted housing, Bloomberg reported. 

The plan is to provide upwards of 500 beds for people living in the city’s subway system. To date, 350 beds have been made available. 

Also, on Tuesday, New York opened the Morris Avenue Safe Haven facility in the Bronx. The facility offers up to 80 beds and full-service primary care and mental health counselling to people experiencing homelessness in New York. 

Policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, Jacquelyn Simone, expressed gratitude that so many beds were being made available however called the crackdown on the encampments harmful and counterproductive.

“Without offering homeless New Yorkers a better place to go, these are cruel public relations tactics that do not address the real problem, nor will they reduce unsheltered homelessness on our streets and subways,” she said according to Bloomberg. 

Going forward, Adams plans to identify and clear out other encampment sites across the city while handing out brochures promoting the Safe Haven facilities.