On Feb. 24 at 3 a.m the NYPD and the MTA will begin clearing the homeless out of the city’s subways, in what the department is calling an “outreach program,” to offer them alternative shelter from the cold.
The initiative, announced at a Queens public meeting last week, revealed the NYPD’s plan to send teams of officers, transit workers and emergency medical technicians to clear homeless men and women out of the subways, DNAinfo.com reports.
They reportedly plan to begin with the E line, a train that runs between Manhattan and Queens, because of a number of complaints received about large numbers of homeless people at the Jamaica Center and World Trade Center stations.
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA who attended the meeting insisted that the homeless will not be forcibly removed from the subway.
“It would be illegal to take someone out of the subway,” he said to DNAinfo. “Instead, they’ll be offered assistance.”
Lisa Black, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services, revealed that a homeless person can in fact be removed from the subway if they are harming themselves or others, or engaging in illegal activities, according to DNAinfo.com.
The NYPD initiative comes after officials and subway riders (said they) noticed an increase in the number of homeless people seeking shelter underground from the cold. Organizations such as, The Coalition for the Homeless, report that homelessness in the city overall is the highest since the Great Depression.
Still, the new initiative is being met with some resistance..
New York City based organization, Picture the Homeless, focuses on the needs of homeless persons in NYC. On their blog they are calling this NYPD initiative a, “homeless round-up” on the subways.
In response, they planned to hold a press conference at the NYPD headquarters condemning the initiative as a violation of rights on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. In addition they plan to supervise the proceedings on Feb. 24 at both the Jamaica Center Subway Station and the WTC Subway Station to ensure no one’s rights are violated. See details here.