On Tuesday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo made a comment that if made by a Republican governor, would certainly have resulted in getting savaged by the mainstream media.
At his daily coronavirus briefing, Cuomo was discussing the homeless people in the subways and brandishing a copy of the New York Daily News that showed pictures of the homeless, then stated, “That is disgusting, what is happening on those subway cars. It’s disrespectful to the essential workers who need to ride the subway system,” as The Gothamist reported.
Cuomo added, “We have to do better than that, and we will.”
The Gothamist noted that Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano stated, “Mayor de Blasio has to direct the police to escort the mentally ill and the homeless out of the system. This is a life-and-death situation, not a quality of life issue.”
New York mayor Bill De Blasio wants the MTA to close ten subway stations and also close terminals between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. so the homeless can be transported to shelters and the subways can be cleaned. He stated, “We’ll devote the police resources, we’ll devote the outreach workers, we’ll do whatever it takes, but we need the MTA to agree to this plan,”
On Monday, the interim head of New York City Transit, Sarah Feinberg, wrote in The New York Post, “We are changing our Code of Conduct to make it abundantly clear that the transit system must be used by people for transport only — not for sheltering, sleeping, storing belongings or panhandling. We will enforce these new regulations in close coordination with our NYPD partners and the MTAPD.”
MTA spokesperson Abbey Collins said, “We’re relieved on behalf of our customers and employees that the City has agreed to do more to provide safe shelter for homeless New Yorkers but it should not have taken a global pandemic for the City to do a job the MTA has called on it to do for years. Happy the city has agreed to do more to provide safe shelter for homeless NYers as we have been asking for months. We thank NYPD for their partnership, and urge City Hall to take additional aggressive actions so we can focus on safely running transit service and not providing social services.”
She added, “The Mayor should get out of his car and into the subways so he can see what is really going on and solve the problem of his own making.”
The Gothamist reported that roughly 4,000 people are homeless on the street.
As far back as 1991, The New York Times pilloried Republicans vis-a-vis the homeless, writing, “The eight Reagan years were dark ones for Federal mental health policy. The homeless — many of them mentally ill — became grimly familiar features of city streets. But the Reagan Administration did worse than ignore them; it magnified the problem.”
But to get a true picture of how the rhetoric regarding Reagan and homelessness was unfair, read here.
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Author: Hank Berrien