‘Not a healthy environment’: NYC pushes to get homeless off streets, expand vaccine effort

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homelessness in nyc

FILE – A homeless person sleeps under a blanket outside an Old Navy store window display in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK — Despite growing concerns over the rising COVID cases caused by the delta variant, New York City is pushing to get the homeless off streets and into shelters as well as expand its vaccination effort to reach more homeless people.

New York City has taken an aggressive campaign approach to get the homeless off streets, and into congregate shelters as they work to bring tourists back, which defies the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations against moving homeless out of streets anywhere except for individual housing, according to the New York Times. 

When questioned about the city’s push to move the homeless back to congregate shelters, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday their focus is protecting the homeless and getting them off the streets.

“We are focused on protecting homeless folks, first of all. The worst place for someone homeless to be is on the street,” the mayor said.

De Blasio also said the city is not only looking at COVID, but also the physical and mental health challenges people, including the homeless, face that could pose a risk for themselves and others.

“That is not a healthy environment,” he said.

The mayor said the goal is to get everyone vaccinated, which is why the city is rolling out more vaccination efforts at shelters and through mobile vaccine vans.

“The goal here clearly is get people off the streets for a variety of reasons, for their own health and wellbeing, for everyone’s sake and get everyone vaccinated,” de Blasio said. 

Goal is get people off the streets and get everyone vaccinated. 

During the height of the pandemic, homeless New Yorkers were moved out of shelters and into hotels in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

As the city began to reopen, the homeless were set to be transferred back into shelters, which was met with many advocates rallying to keep them where they are, especially with the rise of the highly contagious delta variant.

The homeless have said they feel safer in hotels and argued a return to shelters will negatively impact their overall health and livelihood.

Mayor de Blasio has previously said he wants to bring the homeless back to shelters to provide the resources and assistance needed before they are able to be moved to more affordable housing. 

Advocates, however, have called for the homeless to be immediately moved into affordable housing rather than being transferred back to shelters beforehand. 

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