“Sickening” Analogy – Coalition for the Homeless Statement in Response to Mayor Adams’ Subway Outreach Plan

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: press@cfthomeless.org


“Sickening” Analogy – Coalition for the Homeless Statement in Response to Mayor Adams’ Subway Outreach Plan 

Attributable to Shelly Nortz, Deputy Executive Director for Policy with Coalition for the Homeless 

Repeating the failed outreach-based policing strategies of the past will not end the suffering of homeless people bedding down on the subway. It is sickening to hear Mayor Adams liken unsheltered homeless people to a cancer. They are human beings. The Mayor’s own police department recently noted that those who shelter in the transit system are there because they believe they have no safer alternative. Criminalizing homelessness and mental illness is not the answer. As I wrote recently, our mental health system for people with serious mental illnesses is broken. We are pleased to hear that the restoration of 600 NYC psychiatric inpatient beds previously converted to COVID-19 care is a component of the plan, and that there is additional funding for new safe havens, stabilization beds, and supportive housing units, provided they are properly staffed.

“But we need so much more, including ready access to voluntary inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care including medication, individual hotel rooms for unsheltered individuals, and at least 1,000 immediate low-barrier subsidized permanent housing placements paired with mobile mental health teams. The inpatient rate increase mentioned by Gov. Hochul is a start, but Medicaid managed care is an utter failure for those with the most serious mental illnesses, and must be completely reformed.

“Last, we urge great caution with respect to any regulatory or statutory expansion of involuntary commitment or outpatient treatment standards, including Kendra’s Law. Current statutes provide ample legal authority to transport and involuntarily hospitalize those who endanger themselves or others. Expansion of the legal criteria will not solve the problem and could result in pushing people in need further away from care. It will also not solve the problem of premature discharges or access to care when people seek it. It will not solve unsheltered homelessness. In fact, fewer than 30 percent of people with orders under Kendra’s Law have any history of homelessness in their entire lifetimes. The claims that these court orders radically ‘reduce’ homelessness are patently false and should never be used to justify expansion of a law that is applied far more frequently to people of color than others.”