Homeless Advocates Say New Policies 'Disregard, Jeopardize' Well-Being Of People Experiencing Homelessness

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The MTA is enacting new rules that will make it harder for homeless individuals to take refuge in the subway system, but transit officials say it’s to minimize public health risks.

Riders have the right to a clean, safe trip on the subway, so the MTA formally adopted a ban on defecating on subways, buses and transit facilities.

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Violators could face a $100 fine enforced by MTA Police.

It was adopted as part of a long list of rules changes that are generally aimed at keeping homeless individuals from living in the subways during the COVID pandemic.

“The rules are targeted at minimizing health risks to our customers and employees, every customer in the system,” MTA chairman Pat Foye said.

The rules apply to buses, subways, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road.

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They set a 90-minute limit on the amount of time a person can stay in a platform shelter or use a bench or chair in the station or terminal, prohibit smoking of e-cigarettes, and prohibit shopping carts and wheeled carts greater than 30 inches in length.

Homeless advocates reacted angrily.

“While citing safety as a motivator, policies such as the ones approved today by the MTA disregard and jeopardize the health and well-being of people experiencing homelessness,” said Aine Duggan, of the Partnership for the Homeless.

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“I just wanna know what you say to homeless advocates who say that this is criminalizing homelessness?” CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked.

“No, it’s not criminalizing homelessness,” Foye said. “This is about minimizing public health [risk] during a pandemic.”

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Riders had this to say.

“I think they should take them out of the trains because of the rest of us, for our safety,” one person said.

“Look, I don’t want to see somebody defecate on the subway, but I also think that public restrooms are not readily available,” another person said.

“I’d like to see their plan for enforcing them,” one man said.

All this comes as the MTA is in the middle of a financial crisis and considering raising fares and tolls, plus painful service cuts if no aid comes from the federal government.

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