Dehumanizing the homeless must stop

While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our city is complex and far-reaching, the guiding principle behind our collective response to it must remain unchanged: Do everything we can to save lives. Whatever successes we have had toward that end have been the result of decisions based on both clear-eyed rationality and basic human compassion.

That’s why it is so distressing to hear voices of callous intolerance in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, where a number of homeless individuals have been temporarily relocated in order to protect them from this deadly virus. “Deadly” is not an exaggeration: The age-adjusted mortality rate for homeless single adults sleeping in congregate shelters is in fact 79 percent higher than it is for New Yorkers as a whole.