NYPD sued for info on how cops treated
homeless people on the subway
BY GREG B SMITH
The Coalition for the Homeless sued
the NYPD Monday for information
on the scope and impact of cops’
efforts to encourage homeless people to get
off the subways and into shelters.
The much-publicized Subway Diversion
Project, with its philosophy of “supports,
not summonses,” was touted by Mayor Bill
de Blasio as a way for offi cers to provide
help without steering the homeless into the
criminal justice system.
Instead, the Coalition says, multiple
people wound up hit with tickets and were
even arrested. Exact numbers, though, are
In November, the group fi led a request
under the state’s public records law
demanding release of a trove of records
spelling out how the project was run and
whether it proceeded as de Blasio had
The request asked the NYPD how many
homeless people received summons, how
many were arrested, how many were provided
services — and what kind of help
The NYPD had promised to respond
by April, but that deadline came and went
with zero documents delivered. On Monday,
the Coalition fi led suit in Manhattan
A man sleeps early in the morning at the E train terminal at World Trade Center,
March 10, 2020.
Supreme Court to get the police to cough
up the records.
“There’s just been a lack of transparency
about this program and our goal was to
learn about it,” said Deborah Diamant,
the Coalition’s director of government
relations and legal affairs.
‘What They Need is Housing’
De Blasio announced the program
PHOTO BY BEN FRACTENBERG/THE CITY
in June 2019, promising that homeless
individuals found to have violated transit
system rules — such as evading the fare
or stretching across seats — would be sent
to support programs instead of getting a
Last month, the mayor pulled the plug
on the program amid the pandemic, saying
that social service agencies would be able
to handle the task instead of cops. The
NYPD exited the city’s homeless outreach
effort entirely in early July — two months
into a 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. subway shutdown
that’s forced many homeless people to fi nd
overnight shelter elsewhere.
The suit comes about a month after
THE CITY reported that a cop punched
a homeless man while trying to eject him
from Manhattan subway, in an incident
captured on police body-camera video.
The man faces charges of resisting arrest,
while the cop who hit him after midnight
on May 25 has not been disciplined.
The NYPD’s press offi ce did not respond
to questions about the Coalition’s
demand for information on the subway
The group has repeatedly insisted the
police should not be charged with tackling
the city’s homelessness challenges.
“Police offi cers should not be engaged in
homeless services,” said Diamant. “It’s just
another response by the city criminalizing
the state of homelessness. Individuals who
are homeless do not need further interaction
with the police department. What they
need is housing.”
This story was fi rst published on Aug.
10, 2020, by THE CITY, an independent,
nonprofi t news outlet dedicated to hardhitting
reporting that serves the people of
Nonprofit seeks to increase outreach among
New York City homeless amid pandemic
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
The fi re that destroyed a homeless
encampment in Chelsea and sent
one man to the hospital earlier this
month is just one example of the dangers
facing homeless New Yorkers every day in
the city, according to nonprofi t New York
Those dangers are now being made
worse with the COVID-19 pandemic, and
the related economic downturn and the
nightly closures of subways.
New York City Relief has stationed to
a mobile-outreach station to provide New
Yorkers experiencing homelessness with
extra support during the pandemic at Chelsea
Park, which is just blocks away from the
site of the blaze.
On Wednesdays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
those in need can receive food, personal
protective equipment, personal hygiene
products and help with getting COVID-19
fi nancial relief.
With the help of the mobile outreach
unit, the nonprofi t has also been able to
provide over 320 nights of hotel stays to
homeless New Yorkers, according to a statement,
and has delivered thousands of meals,
hygiene kits, PPE, and mobile phones.
New York City Relief has fi ve mobile
outreach locations in NYC:
Wednesday: Chelsea Park, 28th St. (between
9th and 10th Ave.). 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday: The Bowery Mission, 227
Bowery, noon to 2 p.m.
Friday: The Salvation Army near Union
Square, 132 14th St., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday: East Harlem, Park Ave. (between
124th and 125th Streets) 10 a.m.
to 2 p.m.; and South Bronx, Brooke Ave.
(between 147th and 148th Streets), 10 a.m.
to 2 p.m.
PHOTO BY TODD MAISEL
Homeless encampments are springing up, this one on East 18th Street under
the FDR Drive.
4 August 13, 2020 Schneps Media