NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – MTA officials are again vowing to get the homeless off the subways.
That new promise comes in the wake of a stunning report showing a dramatic spike in the number of homeless in just the past year.
The madness of the homeless on board city trains is well documented. One unnerving example being a homeless man who awoke from a nap and took out a hammer to threaten terrified passengers.
The new report found a 20-percent surge in just the last year, with an estimated 2,200 homeless filling the subways compared to 1,770 in 2018.
The MTA says the findings are unacceptable.
“Our customers deserve a safe and orderly station environment and a safe and orderly subway system,” the MTA’s Ronnie Hakim said.
The new plan is to use social workers to do outreach, try to convince the homeless to leave the subways, and go into shelters.
This to be coupled with more cops and more city shelter beds. CBS2’s Marcia Kramer challenged the beleaguered agency on the plan – which seems very familiar to the city’s old plan.
“You’re trying to do the same thing, homeless outreach, New York City has tried to get the homeless off the streets; they’ve failed. What makes you think that you’re going to succeed,” Kramer asked the MTA.
“I think the best thing today is we have to try. We are a group of compassionate people who have got to take this very seriously,” Hakim said.
Officials do say that the increase in homeless in the subways is disproportionate, with the numbers experienced citywide.
That is why state officials say it’s important for the city to do more to house the homeless.
A spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio insists the city has made “unprecedented investments in outreach” which has enabled them to move 600 homeless people out of the subways and into transitional and permanent housing.
“We’re squarely focused on taking that progress forward,” said the spokesperson.
Riders say the homeless problem seriously detracts from the service.
“It’s pretty bad, it’s been bad for years… getting worse actually,” an unsatisfied commuter said.
“They take over the seats, they’re all over the place it makes it unsafe,” another rider added.
“It’s been getting worse I’ve been seeing a lot of people sleeping on the stairs,” another New Yorker explained.
“It affects how I go when I go to work.”
Officials hope to bring added accountability to their plan by having the new MTA Inspector General oversee and evaluate implementation. In other words, they hope she can hold the agency’s feet to the fire.