NEW YORK (PIX11) — Mayor Eric Adams defended his policy of clearing out homeless encampments on the same day he opened a new kind of shelter for unhoused New Yorkers. He said that the city will do its utmost to get people into the new facilities from destroyed encampments, but homeless advocates said that his methods may backfire.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, the mayor led a ribbon cutting at Care Found Here, a facility in the South Box. It’s a so-called safe haven facility, that’s smaller than most traditional, dormitory-style shelters, and has services, including mental heath and medical resources, available.
The grand opening of the location that’s meant to attract homeless people came a day after the city started forcibly removing homeless encampments around the city. It was a process that Mayor Adams defended Tuesday morning.
“I hear people saying ‘Why are you removing encampments, are you doing it so the city can look better?'” he said. “No, I want us to do better.”
Adams said that the dismantling of homeless camps is part of a larger strategy that’s better for unhoused New Yorkers, as well as for New Yorkers overall. However, the city’s largest advocacy group, the Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement that “….policing and sweeps are harmful, counterproductive strategies that can actually push unsheltered homeless people further away from services, and clearing encampments is in direct violation of CDC guidance.”
The coalition supports safe haven shelters, but said that the encampment clearings harm the new types of shelters because the city’s actions breach the trust that homeless people need to go into a shelter.
Care Found Here, the new safe haven facility, has beds for up to 80 people.
However, “…thousands more must be brought online as quickly as possible to begin to meet the need,” the Coalition for the Homeless said.
The mayor said that he intends to unveil plans to expand the safe haven shelter system significantly Wednesday. He also said that the city will make a concerted effort to get people into the new facilities.
“We’re going to go with brochures” to homeless people, he said, “and show, this is what a safe haven looks like.”