NEW YORK (PIX11) – Homeless advocates, formerly homeless people and members of the community gathered on the edge of Morningside Park in Manhattan Saturday night to raise awareness about the homeless crisis in New York City during Homeless Awareness Month.
More than 60,000 New Yorkers currently live in New York City shelters, and it’s estimated at least another 3,000 sleep on city streets every night. That’s why Gary Jenkins, the commissioner of social services, attended the gathering.
“Homelessness is not a crime. We really want to make sure that the city under Mayor [Eric] Adams is embracing people going through challenging times,” Jenkins said.
On the park bench where vigil organizer Shams DaBaron said he slept for months, Adams sat in solidarity, not taking any questions.
“I came here for one reason: to support Shams. I did not come here to do a press conference. I told them I don’t want to speak. I’m not here for that. I am here to support Shams,” the mayor said.
But many in the crowd did have questions for the mayor. Several people asked why $469 million is being cut from the New York City schools budget, which they claim will directly affect the 14,000 children who live in city shelters and attend city public schools.
“These children need extra support. Taking money away from them hurts them. It hurts the homeless kids in the system,” said parent Elizabeth Simmons.