Mayor Eric Adams, together with Governor Kathy Hochul and state and local officials, presented an ambitious plan to establish security in the New York City subway, in order to stop the escalation of violence that has been unleashed in recent months.
Mayor Adams’ administration is focused on supporting homeless and mentally ill people who have settled in the subway, and with the arrival of the pandemic, it increased after many people were left without income and were evicted from their homes.
Eric Adams announced that the actions set out in the plan are intended to be implemented in the short and medium-term and will be worked on in partnership with outreach teams, doctors, and officers from the New York City Police Department.
“It is cruel and inhumane to allow homeless people to live in the subway. Passengers and transit workers deserve a clean, orderly and safe environment. The days of turning a blind eye to this growing problem are over, said Eric Adams.
During the plan presentation, the Mayor looks forward to collaborating with the state, the federal government, TWU, advocates, and law enforcement to solve this challenge. “It will take time, but our work starts now,” Adams said.
Actions to be implemented in the plan
According to the actions presented in the plan, the authorities have given importance to maintaining the safety of New Yorkers in the subway and that the city’s rules and regulations are complied with so as not to allow fatal criminal acts to continue to occur within the stations that end in tragedies.
Up to 30 Joint Response Teams will be deployed bringing together the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the New York Police Department, and community providers to locations of high need.
NYPD officers working in the subway system will be trained to enforce the rules of conduct established by the MTA and the New York City Transit Authority in a fair and transparent manner.
They are going to expand the Behavioral Health Emergency teams, which will be tasked with responding to nonviolent 911 calls with mental health professionals.
The authorities indicated that medical services will be incorporated into the sites of the Department of Homeland Security, which serve people without homes or protection, offering them physical and behavioral health care.
Meetings will be held weekly with the “Enhanced Outreach Task Force” that includes senior leaders from 13 city and state agencies to quickly address issues.
To have a greater scope, new reception centers are going to be created that will become safe spaces for the people who are inside the trains and platforms.
The placement process in supportive housing will be more agile. The amount of paperwork needed to prove eligibility is expected to be reduced.
They will call on the state government to expand psychiatric bed resources and amend Kendra’s Law to improve the delivery of mental health care for New Yorkers in assisted outpatient treatment.
They also reported that they will require, rather than request, everyone to leave the train and the station at the end of the line.
With this plan presented by Mayor Adams, people are expected to stop using the subway as a permanent shelter. They also consider that this will be a good opportunity to reduce and, if possible, eradicate the violent acts that have occurred in recent weeks, such as pushing the station rails.
The authorities also expect the number of passengers to increase. An effort that they have been developing since the start of the pandemic when thousands of people began to work remotely.
This plan presented by Eric Adams aligns with the urgent need to address the public safety of the city, which has been clouded by the criminal acts of stabbings that have also occurred in some stations.
Ensuring passenger safety is part of an equitable recovery for all New Yorkers who have faced economic and social hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Kathy Hochul, for her part, assured that she will work hand in hand with Eric Adams in making important investments that will help improve access to acute mental health care and psychiatric beds in hospitals throughout New York State.
Investments made at the state level include $27.5 million annually to increase funding for inpatient psychiatric beds; $9 million annually to recruit psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners; and $12.5 million annually for an additional 500 supportive housing beds to house homeless people in their communities.
“For too long, our mental health care system suffered from disinvestment, and the pandemic has only made things more difficult for New Yorkers with serious mental illness who find themselves homeless,” said the New York Governor.
Kathy Hochul, who is running for a full term, assured that they must “work together to keep our subways, the lifeblood of New York City, safe for all passengers and to provide help and services to those who need them.”