Cuomo forces homeless into shelters during winter

Cyril Josh Barker | 1/7/2016, 10:56 a.m.
“We’re living with the mistakes that past mayors have made, all the hand-outs to landlords that made this city unaffordable, ...
Homeless man in Harlem Bill Moore

This week, de Blasio announced a three-year plan to phase out and permanently end the city’s 15-year program of placing homeless families into “cluster” shelter units—apartments, many of which should be low-rent housing.

New shelter capacity is being added with a new model that includes affordable permanent housing, flexible shelter space and community space in the same building.

Although the idea of getting homeless people off the street during the winter might sound like a good idea, the concept of police or anyone forcing homeless people into a shelter is not only unjustified but also illegal.

No law dictates that homeless can’t live on the street or forces them into shelters. Critics say that police could use their authority to brutalize homeless people to force them off the streets.

In December, the AmNews reported that three homeless men are suing the city because NYPD officers and Department of Sanitation workers threw away their personal possessions, including medication, family photos and birth certificates and other important documents while they were sleeping outside.

“People need to know that it’s cold in here, too,” said Arvernetta Henry, a member of Picture the Homeless currently residing in a city shelter. “The city wastes more than $3,000 a month on my shelter bed, but they don’t have blankets. They don’t have heat. If someone knew that they’d be warm, that they’d be safe, that they wouldn’t wake up with someone standing over their bed with a baseball bat, they might actually want to go to shelter.”