Coronavirus: Anger as New York's homeless forced to seek shelter amid 'mayhem' on subway trains

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio demanded on Tuesday for the MTA to close 10 select subway stations to help the NYPD clear out homeless people

World | The Independent

Anger has heightened in New York City over reports of homeless people relying on subway cars for shelter during the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the issue during his daily press briefing by holding up a copy of the New York Daily News, which read “Next stop, purgatory” as the headline and showed a homeless person in a train car.

The newspaper reported 10 hours of mayhem on the subway with essential Metropolitan Transit Association (MTA) employees witnessing arson, inappropriate sexual behaviour, and human waste from riders who’ve used the subway as a temporary home.

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“That is disgusting, what is happening on those subway cars. It’s disrespectful to the essential workers,” Mr Cuomo said on Tuesday.

He added: “It’s not even safe for the homeless people to be on trains. No face masks, you have this whole outbreak, we’re concerned about homeless people, so we let them stay on the trains without protection in this epidemic of the covid virus? No. We have to do better than that, and we will.”

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Mr Cuomo said talks at the beginning of Covid-19 focused on potentially closing public transport in an effort to stop the spread of the novel virus. But state and local officials ultimately agreed to keep the MTA running to help essential workers, such as healthcare professionals, get to and from work.

“That’s how the nurses are getting to work. That’s how the orderlies are getting to work. Nobody will be at the hospital. Nobody will be there to deliver the food. Nobody will be in the power plant to keep the lights on. Nobody will be at the telecommunications department,” he said. “Public transportation is vital for them. Well, then make sure public transportation is safe and disinfected.”

The governor did not detail what steps he was prepared to take to improve the subway situation, specifically what would happen to the homeless people occupying train cars.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio demanded on Tuesday for the MTA to close 10 select subway stations to help the NYPD clear out homeless people.

These stations would be closed from midnight to 5am to allow for workers to deep clean the stations and remove riders who remain on trains all day.

“Everyone has to get out of the stations, instead of what’s happened for years and years – that a homeless person just sits on the train, or maybe gets off the train temporarily gets right back on it goes then the whole way back,” Mr de Blasio said.

It was also announced the city would open 200 Safe Haven beds to help connect homeless people with the proper resources and services.

“We are doing everything we can to strengthen our subway and street outreach to ensure that every New Yorker who needs a place to sleep will get one,” the mayor said in a statement.

  • Coronavirus: Anger as New York's homeless forced to seek shelter amid 'mayhem' on subway trains photo


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