NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In 1967, Petula Clark sang “Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’.” Decades later, police Commissioner Bill Bratton is singing the same tune — except “darlin'” isn’t included in his lyrics.
New York City’s top cop has a tough strategy for dealing with the homeless who try to catch some shut-eye on trains, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“Subways are not for sleeping, and I wish we could have people understand that,” Bratton said.
As the mercury plummets and the homeless find it might be just a tad too cold to bathe in the fountains in Columbus Circle — as was seen in photos that surfaced in July — or sleep on the streets, the police commissioner wants the homeless to know they should go to city shelters, not the subway.
“Subways are not homeless shelters, and the homeless will not be allowed to congregate in them,” Bratton said. “The city has more than adequate shelters in other facilities.”
As the NYPD begins training thousands of cops to deal with the homeless, Bratton made it clear he doesn’t even want the homeless on station platforms.
“The homeless will not be allowed to take up residence on the platforms or on the subway cars,” he said.
The city said it’s doing all it can to find places for the homeless who want to take up residence on the city’s mass transit system.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said that since July 2014, the city has “moved 773 chronically homeless individuals from the subway into transitional and permanent housing as well as to shelter and other programs. We continue to add case managers and clinicians to assist those on our streets.”
The city said it now has outreach services at all 468 subway stations and that teams are deployed 24/7 in all five boroughs.
But some homeless advocates are not happy about Bratton’s zero-tolerance policies.
“I don’t think we should be talking about a group of people and saying that they’re not going to be some place,” said George McDonald, president of The Doe Fund. “These are human beings. People have to be judged based on their conduct, not their appearance. … Subways are for New Yorkers. Period. Anything else, I think, borders on a very serious legal problem for the commissioner and for the city.”
McDonald said the city should be building more transitional housing for people to get off the street. He said de Blasio put a moratorium on building such units.
The city said there is no moratorium and that it just stopped payment to landlords who offered substandard accommodations.