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New York City to remove homeless from subway

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he was instructing police officers and social workers to remove anyone sheltering inside train cars and on station platforms on the city's subway./AFP
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Feb 21, 2022 - 06:49 AM

NEW YORK — New York leaders pledged Friday to clear homeless people from the city’s subway following a spike in violence on the underground transit system since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mayor Eric Adams said he was instructing police officers and social workers to remove anyone sheltering inside train cars and on station platforms.

“The system was not made to be housing, it’s made to be transportation,” Adams, 61, told reporters.

Homeless people sought refuge in the subway system after shelters closed at the height of the pandemic in spring 2020 and as workers stopped commuting to offices.

Adams said police officers would work with outreach workers who would help take homeless people to shelters or towards hospital help if they appear mentally ill.

His action plan, announced with New York state governor Kathy Hochul, also called for new drop-in centers and almost 500 additional beds for the homeless.

The moves come after several high-profile incidents of violence on the transport system.

Last month, a 40-year-old Asian-American woman died at Times Square station when she was pushed onto the tracks by a homeless man suffering from psychiatric problems.

Her death followed several other shoving incidents that have led many New Yorkers to say they no longer feel safe riding the subway.

Adams, who took office on January 1 on a public safety platform, added that he was also directing the NYPD to crack down on smoking and drug taking on the transport system.

He hopes the measures will boost ridership, which is well below pre-pandemic levels.

Violent crime on the subway was up 25 percent in 2021 compared to 2019, according to police figures, despite a slump in ridership.

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