MTA launching task force to tackle homeless crisis in subways

Kimberly Dole
July 25, 2019 - 8:04 am
Homeless in subway

Anthony Behar / Sipa USA

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The MTA announced on Wednesday that it is launching a task force to help tackle the growing homeless crisis in the city’s subways.

The announcement comes a day after an audit released by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that workers contracted by the MTA to help with this issue at stations like Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station often remained in their office, ignoring issues including homeless New Yorkers knocked, looking for help. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also sent a letter to the MTA board earlier this month demanding the homeless issue be addressed as part of an agency reorganization plan.

The task force will focus on dramatically reducing the amount of homeless people on the subways by designing a plan that revolves around “housing alternatives and increased resources”. 

“I want to increase the safety for the riding public,” said MTA finance chair Larry Schwartz. “It’s homeless people sleeping in the subway stations. They’re actually on the trains asking for money, asking for food.”

According to Schwartz, the new task force will have a month to create the plan will include reps from the NYPD Transit Bureau, MTA Police and the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, along with MTA managing director Veronique Hakim and chief safety officer Pat Warren.

The task force will focus on issues that include better ways to measure the number of homeless people on the transit system, “enhanced enforcement” of subway rules and the possibility of establishing a “dedicated homeless outreach office within the MTA.

The city Department of Homeless service’s annual head count revealed that the number of homeless people sleeping in the subways has increased by 23 percent this year.

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