Homeless in subway

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City Launches New Program To Help Homeless Move Off Subways Into Support Services

June 13, 2019 - 7:05 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The de Blasio Administration announced Thursday it will begin diverting law-breaking homeless on the subways into support services instead of issuing a court summons.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says the pilot program, called the Subway Diversion Project, will ensure that homeless people receive the right interventions.

The program will launch July 1 and will only take place on subways traveling through Manhattan.

Homeless individuals spotted by the NYPD who commit low-level offenses in the subway, including fare evasion or lying along benches, will be given a chance to avoid a court summons by agreeing instead to go through the shelter and or social services system.

“There’s nothing new here in the way of actual resources to help people move off the street,” said Giselle Routhier, police director for the Coalition for the Homeless.

She notes that the mayor’s new initiative isn’t groundbreaking and added that it can be harmful to some.

Routhier says that many homeless individuals turn to the subway system to avoid shelters for legitimate reasons. She says the process of going through the shelter system can be frightening for certain people.

“What’s new here is a level of coercion that hasn’t previously been in place in order to try to bring people into the outreach, many of whom have already engaged with outreach and are not interested or not eligible for the services that they have offered,” Routhier said.

She notes that the mayor’s plan especially does not address the underlying issue of why someone becomes homeless.