NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With temperatures on the rise, you may have noticed more homeless people sleeping on the streets, in the parks and on subways.
Is City Hall taking action to help the homeless and ensure New Yorkers are safe?
CBS2’s Diane Macedo went to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday and demanded answers.
Walk just about anywhere in the city and it doesn’t take long to see.
“We have quite a bit of homeless people around here,” East Village resident Vasilisa Pavlova said.
“We notice more guys in the streets lately,” resident Susan Auslander added.
“There are some people who are pretty crazy, who are walking around and that’s of some concern,” added Amy Epstein of the Upper West Side.
The results can be unpleasant as well as intimidating.
“There’s a lot of public urination and public defecation,” said Brandon Tourant of the East Village.
“They were like kicking the trains. They were like screaming,” added Victor Cedeno, who was visiting from his native Colombia.
And sometimes the conditions can be downright dangerous, for both residents and the homeless.
“I got attacked during my stay out here, being homeless twice,” Sofia Early said.
“There are times when, yes, I would feel safer sleeping here in the park than I do at the shelter,” James Hayes added.
The issue has many asking what the city is prepared to do about it. Macedo went to Mayor de Blasio to find out.
Macedo: “We’re getting an increase in complaints of the prevalence of homeless people in the streets, sleeping on the streets, urinating on the streets, sometimes assaulting people in the streets. I’m wondering what you’re doing about that?”
De Blasio: “We put a huge investment in new mental health services into the recently passed city budget. On the housing side, we have the most ambitious affordable housing plan in the history of the city.”
Macedo asked the mayor to explain specifically what he’s going to be doing with mental health issues and substance abuse issues, to which he answered, “You’re going to be hearing a lot. If you look at the budget, which was passed a few weeks ago, there are a number of initiatives.”
But while the first lady was supposed to unveil details on those initiatives this summer, the Mayor’s Office said Thursday that won’t happen until the fall, Macedo reported.
As for the police, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said they’re teaming up with social organizations to get homeless people out of the subways. But beyond that?
“We police behavior, not the condition,” Bratton said. “You might be sitting in a park somewhere and you might not want to be sitting beside them, but they every bit as much right to be in that park as you or I to sit on that bench.”
So the NYPD said it can’t move people off the street. Macedo asked the Mayor’s Office how he plans to address the issue in the short term. There was no immediate response.
De Blasio also said the city is throwing everything it can at the problem of homelessness and needs more help from the state, Macedo reported.