NYC plans to remove homeless encampments from the streets

NEW YORK — New York City officials plan to remove makeshift shelters set up by homeless people on city streets, mirroring similar efforts in other liberal metropolises that previously condoned encampments.

Mayor Eric Adams unveiled the initiative in an interview with The New York Times on Friday, but provided few details. It comes a month after he announced an effort to remove homeless people from the city’s extensive subway system in response to muggings and other aggressive behavior.

“We’re going to clear encampments from our street and we’re going to get people into healthy living conditions with wraparound services,” he told The Times. “I tell my municipal agencies to do a block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis, identify where the encampments are, then execute a plan to deliver services to the people who are in the encampments, then dismantle these camps.”

Adams did not say where people living in the encampments would go, and recognized officials cannot force anyone to go to a homeless shelter. He expected the effort to begin within two weeks.

“We cannot prevent an individual from sleeping rough on the basis of the law, and we are not going to violate that law,” he said. “But you can’t build a miniature cardboard house on the street. It’s inhumane.

In its latest estimate in January 2021, the city said about 1,100 people lived in parks and on the streets – a number considered by many advocates to be an undercount. Most of the city’s roughly 50,000 homeless people live in shelters.

Homeless people and their advocates said the removal of street encampments only moved people from one place to another.

A growing number of cities across the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, have removed encampments and taken other steps to address homelessness that would have been unheard of years ago.

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