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Mayor Eric Adams defends NYC homeless camp raids

Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday doubled down on his decision to clear homeless encampments across the Big Apple, insisting city shelters are safe despite years of complaints about dangerous conditions.

Hizzoner made the comments as police, social and sanitation workers continued to sift through a list of about 180 camps where New Yorkers have pitched tents or other patchwork street shelters.

“We cannot tolerate these makeshift, unsafe homes on the side of freeways, in trees, in front of schools, in parks. It’s just not acceptable, and I just won’t let it happen,” he told reporters during an independent news conference in Brooklyn. “I’m not going to ignore what I see like other people who are willing to do so.

“We’re walking past people living on cardboard boxes, in these makeshift, inhumane houses – that’s just not right,” he added. “There is nothing dignified about people living on the streets.”

Adams also bemoaned the dysfunction of his largest welfare agency, the Human Resources Administration, which was a major contributor to an estimated 2,500 city-funded housing units for the homeless and needy that were sitting vacant, according to The Post.

“I wake up every day and read the paper, some of my best ideas come from some of the good reports around town,” the mayor said during a second news conference Tuesday in the Bronx. “When this came on my radar I acted immediately and we will put in place a formal plan for occupancy of these beds.”

NYC Mayor Eric Adams made the statement during an independent news conference on March 29, 2022.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams made the statement during an independent news conference on March 29, 2022.
Paul Martinka

He promised to announce the details in the coming days.

Adams answered those questions late Tuesday outside of a new “safe haven” shelter the Bronx city is opening across from Lincoln Hospital.

City officials have touted these new shelters as trying to persuade chronically homeless New Yorkers to come in by offering more privacy and more flexible rules than the large, barracks-style shelters that typically house single adults.

Department of Sanitation workers are escorted by the NYPD as they clear the belongings of several homeless New Yorkers on Manhattan and Meeker Ave under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
Department of Sanitation workers are escorted by the NYPD as they clear the belongings of several homeless New Yorkers on Manhattan and Meeker Avenue under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

“It’s smaller, you know, we’re a lot smaller than a typical shelter. We have more intensive services. You can get your health care right here, locally,” said George Nashak, CEO of the nonprofit Care for the Homeless, which operates the city-funded website. “Our main task is to create a number of better options.”

Advocates for the homeless have attacked Adams’ sweeps since City Hall announced the policy, arguing it’s up to city officials to build a better housing system that convinces people to come in — and trying to solve the problem by clearing camps forcing is unproductive.

“Policing and sweeps are harmful, counterproductive strategies that can further push vulnerable homeless people from services,” said Jacquelyn Simone, political director of the Coalition for the Homeless, in a statement released Tuesday. “Without offering a better place for homeless New Yorkers, these are cruel PR tactics that fail to address the real issue.”

Michael Rodriguez is pondering which of his belongings to salvage as an area where he and a number of other people had been living on the streets has been cleared by police and sanitation workers.
Michael Rodriguez assesses what belongings he can salvage as an area where he and a number of other people had been living on the streets has been cleared by police and sanitation workers.
EPA/JUSTIN LANE

Adams again tried to challenge those perceptions on Tuesday, claiming he saw only good conditions while conducting spot inspections of city shelters. He vowed to begin unannounced inspections after another disclosure by the Post that despite years of promises of reform revealed conditions that were still appalling.

“I see clean places for people to have meals and showers,” Adams said.

“The safest place for people who are currently homeless is in shelter,” he added.

Eric Adams wants to
The mayor wants to “clear the camps” and “bring people into healthy living conditions with comprehensive services”.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

But Adams’ replies on Tuesday did little to quell the questions and criticism that erupted after City Hall first revealed the effort – which had already been underway for a week – in a newspaper interview late Friday.

Nor have officials provided much-sought-after information about the sweeps, including the number of New Yorkers who have relocated and how many of them have accepted places in temporary shelters. Instead, they promised a more comprehensive briefing on Wednesday.

The effort has already attracted significant media attention. Cameras filmed the scene as sanitation workers towed away a blue tent from a man who told the Post he had lived under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn for two years. The man, 41-year-old Heriberto Medina Jr., said he was left with his bike, a pair of backpacks and white Fila sneakers.

A man living in a tree assaulted a New York Post reporter on March 28, 2022 and was arrested by the NYPD.
A man living in a tree assaulted a New York Post reporter on March 28, 2022 and was arrested.
Kevin Sheehan/NNY Post

Meanwhile, a homeless man who has been nesting in a tree in Manhattan for months has been arrested for assaulting a Post reporter.

On Tuesday, Adams hit back at critics who pointed out the painful scenes, saying he was “proud” of the effort.

“We will give a full profile of exactly the camps. I think we’ll do a full profile tomorrow,” he told reporters. “I’m really proud that we did it. I have committed myself.”

Additional reporting by Kevin Sheehan

Rewell Altunga, a homeless man, has been nesting in a park tree in NYC for months.  He assaulted a Post photographer and reporter, was arrested and appeared in court on March 29, 2022.
Rewell Altunga, a homeless man, has been nesting in a park tree in NYC for months. He assaulted a Post photographer and reporter, was arrested and appeared in court on March 29, 2022.
Stephen Hirsch
Department of Sanitation workers under the BQE at Meeker and Manhattan Avenues in Brooklyn, NY on March 28, 2022.
Department of Sanitation workers under the BQE at Meeker and Manhattan Avenues in Brooklyn, NY on March 28, 2022.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/mayor-eric-adams-defends-nyc-homeless-encampment-sweeps/ Mayor Eric Adams defends NYC homeless camp raids

JACLYN DIAZ

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