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Mayor Adams faces pushback from advocates for homeless after unveiling next phase of subway safety plan

Mayor Adams faces pushback from advocates for homeless after unveiling next phase of subway safety p 03:35

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams on Friday unveiled an aggressive plan to remove all homeless people from the transit system.

The announcement follows a rise in subway crimes, but the mayor immediately ran into opposition from advocates for the homeless, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"It's imperative that we have the right response that has the combination of being humane but clear," Adams said. "We're going to ensure that fear is not New York's reality."

The problem of the homeless on the subways -- sleeping on trains, urinating on platforms, bringing shopping carts of belongings -- have bedeviled mayors for decades.

"The system is not made to be housing. It's made to be transportation, and we have to return back to that basic philosophy," Adams said.

Mayor Adams, a former transit captain, is just not going to put up with it anymore. He's sending his cops and teams of outreach workers to remove them ASAP.

News Conference: Adams, Hochul announce next phase of subway plan

Mayor Adams, Gov. Hochul announce subway safety plan 50:29

"The subway plan is a comprehensive civic strategy that will do more than deal with a temporary fix. You can't put a Band Aid on a cancerous sore, that is not how you solve the problem. You must remove the cancer and start the healing process," Adams said.

Adams said he will start by requiring police to strictly enforce transit rules, such as:

  • Sleeping across multiple seats
  • Exhibiting aggressive behavior
  • Creating an unsanitary environment

Cops will also demand that the homeless leave the train at the end of the line.

"We got so used to being dysfunctional that it became the normality. Well I'm not a dysfunctional mayor and I don't pretend that a problem doesn't exist," Adams said.

Watch John Dias' Report

Adams, Hochul, lay out plans to address mental health crisis, homelessness in subway system 02:42

The plan, announced jointly with Gov. Kathy Hochul and MTA head Janno Lieber, includes deploying 30 joint response teams to try to persuade the homeless and mentally ill to accept help.

As CBS2's Ali Bauman reports, the state will also invest nearly $40 million to open 500 supportive housing beds and 600 psychiatric beds in the hopes that hospitals will admit more psych patients.

"And when we overcome that barrier, the gap between psychiatric and non-psychiatric beds and make it closer, that creates the right incentive to say, yes, let's get them filled with the people who need the most help," Hochul said.

And there will be something else. Officials said there will be a "reinterpretation" of state laws that will allow them to keep people in hospitals even if they may not want help by saying they're an imminent danger to themselves.

"We have to set a standard that is clear that people who are living on the subway, who have no home or have no way to feed themselves, no way to clothe themselves, that those people are in danger to themselves. It's a pressing, eminent danger," said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz.

The new push comes as subway crime has skyrocketed. There have been 276 cases of murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary and grand larceny in 2022 so far, compared to 167 last year.

It also comes after 40-year-old businesswoman Michelle Go was killed in January. Go was pushed in front of an oncoming train in Times Square by an emotionally disturbed man.

Watch Marcia Kramer's Report

Homeless advocates voice opposition to Mayor Eric Adams' aggressive subway safety plan 03:25

The Coalition for the Homeless called Adams' remarks "sickening" and his plan "a repeat of failed strategies."

"It's troubling that a mayor in such a large city would use terms like disgusting or cancer to refer to his homeless constituents. These are human beings who deserve care and respect and dignity," Jacquelyn Simone said.

"We are very concerned that it overly relies on criminalization and policing strategies to address what is fundamentally a housing and mental health crisis," Simone added.

The mayor insists enforcement will not be heavy-handed.

"We're not saying if you break a minor infraction that we're going to put handcuffs on you. We're going to correct the conditions," Adams said.

Many, including Lisa Daglian of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, support the plan. Daglian called it a "holistic approach" that addresses valid safety concerns riders and transit workers experience underground.

The plan is also supported by Transit Union President Tony Utano.

The new program to get the homeless off the street starts Monday. Police will focus on the A, E, 1, 2, N and R lines.

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