On the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Ave, the M35 bus stop provides the only way to get on and off Wards Island. The island is home to four large homeless shelters for single men, with a total population of over 1,000 people.
According to a recent news article, residents around 125th Street and Lexington Ave blame garbage and panhandling on the homeless men that use this bus line, citing their stereotypical beliefs that most are former convicts and sex offenders. They have proposed moving the stop several blocks away. Although this corner is a transit hub with 3 subways lines, 3 other bus lines, and significant foot traffic, neighbors are still quick to blame all problems on homeless men, many of whom are travelling back and forth to look for work and access services. Indeed of several men they interviewed, one had just gotten a job and was looking for an apartment, one travels every day to submit job applications, and yet another was disabled and confined to a wheelchair—not exactly the scary homeless sex offender the article seemed so eager to portray.
In the end, what we have here is just another example of discrimination against homeless individuals, solely because they lack a permanent home. Instead of trying to move these individuals out of sight, let’s address the real issues behind this problem—a lack of affordable housing, high unemployment, record poverty, and a lack of supportive services for those living with mental illness and substance abuse issues.