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NEW YORK — As New York City grapples with a rise in hate crimes, mayoral candidate Andrew Yang says part of the solution lies in reducing street homelessness.

According to the NYPD, there were 28 reported hate crimes in New York City in all of 2020. Comparatively, there were 42 hate crimes reported from January through March 31, 2021, including an alarming rise in attacks on Asian people.

In an exclusive forum with PIX11’s Ayana Harry and Henry Rosoff, Yang addressed his proposal to beef up the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force, but said there’s more to the idea than putting more cops in immigrant communities.

“We have to build those connections of trust. And I agree … that a lot of these incidents are going unreported,” he said. “So, in the process of building those connections, and I do think that funding the anti-Asian Hate Crime Task Force would be a piece of that, but we also have to try and address the reality on the ground.”

Yang referenced a New York Daily News report published in May that found half of all suspects accused of committing hate crimes against Asians in New York City so far this year have a mental health history with the NYPD, according to police. He then correlated mental health illness with the city’s homeless population.

“If we reduce street homelessness by 50% or more, which I’ve committed to do, we’ll actually also be reducing the number of hate crimes because there will be fewer mentally ill people on our streets,” he said.

Yang has also promoted a two-strike warning system for those with mental health issues when interacting with the NYPD.

The mayoral hopeful harkened back to the early days of his campaign when he intervened while a photographer was being harassed by a man on Staten Island Ferry. The same man was arrested a few weeks later for assaulting an Asian person on the subway, Yang said.

“If you’re a police officer and you encounter someone, right now, we don’t get much information. We know whether you arrested them or not, but we don’t know if they did something that made you concerned but you didn’t want to place them under arrest during that occasion,” the mayoral hopeful explained. “So if you just document, ‘look I warned this person for being disruptive, for being aggressive, in this environment’ and then another officer encounters that person three days later and they’re being similarly aggressive, then you can take action before the person does something criminal, destructive or even violent.”

Yang also answered tough questions on the inner workings of his proposed Universal Basic Income program, how he would bring back jobs to the city, and whether he would eliminate testing for admissions into elite high schools. Watch the full interview to find out these answers and more.

If you or someone you know are experiencing anti-Asian hate, click here for resources. Anyone who witnesses an incident can also find out more information on bystander intervention by clicking here