Following the back-to-back crime incidents in the subways, Mayor Eric Adams has proposed an initiative to increase safety, reported NBC News. The plan targets the homeless, however, New York’s homeless population is majority people of color. Advocates raised concerns about their safety and treatment as Adams aims to increase police presence.
Per the Subway Safety Plan, people will not be able to sleep on subway cars or cause any public disturbance that may jeopardize the safety of anyone around them. Adams said via new conference that these people are mentally ill and are a danger to themselves and other New Yorkers.
According to data released by the New York Police Department, New York City’s overall index of crime in January increased by 38.5 percent compared to January last year. On transit specifically, 198 crimes took place in January — an increase of 75.2 percent compared to January 2021.
In response to the city’s escalating crime rate, Adams deployed more police to patrol the train stations, resulting in more than 100,000 inspections since the beginning of the year.
Some advocates for the homeless predict the plan will do more harm than good by criminalizing the homeless and generalizing the homeless population as being mentally ill and violent. Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Jacquelyn Simone told NBC the plan is “a step backward” and could “increase police interaction with homeless New Yorkers who are disproportionately Black and Latino.”
New York City has one of the largest homeless populations in the nation. According to data provided by Coalition for the Homeless, Black and Latino communities are at greater risk of homelessness: In 2017, 58 percent of the city’s shelter residents were Black, and 31 percent were Latino.
“Because of persistent racism, Black and Latinx New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by homelessness,” Simone said. “I think that as people have a greater recognition of racial inequalities, we need to also ensure that we provide the permanent housing that people need to really thrive.”
There are some upsides to the plan. A part of it includes outreach from social workers and police officers to identify people who are mentally ill. The plan will also invest millions into housing and recruiting psychiatrists who will be offered $150,000 in student loan forgiveness.