Cuomo: MTA must do 'whatever it takes' to move homeless people from subways to shelters

Maya Rajamani
April 28, 2020 - 4:25 pm

    NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The MTA must do “whatever it takes” to move homeless people out of subway cars and into shelters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with 1010 WINS Tuesday. 

    During his daily briefing Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo held up a New York Daily News cover depicting a homeless person riding the subway with a cartload of belongings. 

    “That is disgusting, what is happening on those subway cars. It’s disrespectful to the essential workers who need to ride the subway system,” Cuomo said, calling for “a public transportation system that is clean, where the trains are disinfected.” 

    Speaking with 1010 WINS anchor Larry Kanter after the briefing, the governor described the issue of homelessness in subways as a “serious problem.” 

    “We have to do something, and we have to do it fast, and it has to be right. And I’m open to anything that the MTA says will actually fix this,” Cuomo said. “We leave the subways open so the essential workers can get to work. Remember, the essential workers are the heroes of this entire situation — the nurses, the doctors, the food delivery people. If it wasn’t for them, we all wouldn’t have the ability to stay home and be safe.”

    “This is not helping the homeless, letting them sleep on the trains in the middle of a global pandemic — I mean, it’s just lunacy,” he added. “The homeless do not have a right to ride the trains in a manner that puts their health at risk, endangers their health, endangers the health of other people.” 

    Cuomo said he has asked the MTA to “tell me what you need to disinfect every train every night, and to get the homeless off the trains and into shelters.” The agency will get back to him within two days with a plan, he said. 

    Asked about homeless people who are reluctant to go to shelters for safety and other reasons, the governor noted the state spends “over a billion dollars a year on shelters and services.”

    “That’s what society should be providing — a safe, clean, decent shelter, and services to help you work through whatever the issue is,” he said. 

    The governor also brushed off a query about his own health, saying that “many people are working much harder and under much more duress than I am.”

    “Think about a nurse who has to go into an emergency room every day, or a doctor, or a food delivery person who opens the door 50 times and doesn’t know who’s on the other side of the door, or a police officer who has to go into a house to handle a domestic disturbance,” he said.

    “These are the people who are doing yeoman’s work, and those are the people I applaud. Me, you know, I just talk a lot, Larry. That’s all I’m doing.”