NEW YORK (PIX11) — Jordan Neely, the 30-year-old subway performer killed last week after being placed in a chokehold during a mental health episode, was reportedly on a Department of Homeless Services list.
The list allegedly tracks the 50 most at-risk people living on city streets. A DHS-contracted provider confirmed to PIX11 News that such a list does exist and focuses on individuals who continue filtering through the system. They may suffer from severe mental health or medical issues or be in and out of jail.
On Monday, City Councilmember Diana Ayala pressed DHS for answers about the list during a budget hearing.
“If you look at each individual case, you will see that they came in contact with every organization on the face of the Earth, and they still fell through the cracks,” said Ayala. “So, we’re doing something fundamentally wrong.”
DHS Commissioner Molly Wasow Park would not speak specifically about Jordan Neely’s case because of privacy concerns but said that the Top 50 list is only for internal use within DHS and its contracted providers.
“It’s certainly not a published list,” said Park. “The concept of the Top 50 is a way for us to focus on this inter-agency collaborative case management and do it in a way that is meeting the needs of very, very high-need individuals.”
Ayala said the city needs to do better.
“We cannot be a city that is pointing the finger at the neediest because we don’t want to see it, because it bothers us,” said Ayala. “These are people that need help, and we should be doing better. So, shame on all of us. And I include myself in that.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul echoed that sentiment on the state level.
“It is a wake-up call,” said Hochul. “It is saying, society is frayed right now, our people are hurting, and shame on us if we don’t step up and say no, we’re here to help.”