NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New Yorkers who’ve been demanding the city do something about the homeless crisis for years woke up to the news of a quadruple murder on Saturday.
For many people in Chinatown, the incident which left four homeless people dead was the last straw.
Neighbors want to make sure nothing like this happens ever again, saying change has to come from the top to help people get off the streets.
Residents tell CBS2 the city’s homeless problem is hard to ignore, with scores of people camped out seemingly everywhere – on sidewalks, stoops, and below ground on the subways.
“You see them around. They take shelter in the subways,” one person said.
“I think these people aren’t getting the help they need.”
“I think it’s horrible. Homeless… it’s an issue we walk past it, we see it,” Jared Lewis added.
Residents told CBS2’s Reena Roy things have gotten out of hand, with those four men being killed while sleeping on the streets.
On Friday, the MTA announced a plan to tackle the problem in the transit system with more outreach from social workers, plus more cops and more city shelter beds.
But what are officials doing to bring down homelessness overall?
Earlier this year, in its state of the homeless report, the Coalition for the Homeless said under the de Blasio Administration the number of people living in city shelters has reached record highs – with 64,000 people in January.
CBS2 tried to speak with the mayor after the violent killing spree, de Blasio quickly drove off from the crime scene without comment.
A spokesperson later told CBS2 “we will do all we can to ensure another tragedy like this never happens again,” including reportedly adding a higher police presence and more homeless outreach in that area.
The Department of Social Services also claims the agency has launched the most comprehensive street outreach program nationwide, taking more than 2,200 people off the streets.
But CBS2 Urban Affairs Expert Mark Peters says the city needs to be doing even more.
“Given the significant rise in number of homeless the city is clearly not doing enough to tackle this problem,” Peters said.
“It needs to do a much better efficient outreach than it’s done in the last several years.”
As for the suspect in this case, authorities say he is currently at an area hospital being a evaluated and has not yet been charged.