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Opponents of Mayor Eric Adams' mental health plan say city should instead focus on reinvesting in social programs

Protests held over Mayor Adams' controversial mental health plan
Protests held over Mayor Adams' controversial mental health plan 02:24

NEW YORK -- A week after introducing a controversial plan to remove the mentally ill from the streets, Mayor Eric Adams is facing calls to drop it and instead focus on restoring social program cuts to the city's budget.

There was outrage on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday over the mayor's efforts to tackle homelessness. Advocates say instead of forcefully committing people, Adams needs to reinvest in social programs, CBS2's Christina Fan reported

"Public safety is definitely having experts to take care of fellow New Yorkers with mental illness, not just out of sight, out of mind. Out of sight, out of mind is a public stunt and is not public safety," said James Inniss of the group New York Communities for Change.

Last week, the mayor directed first responders and outreach workers to remove people with severe mental illness from the streets, whether they agree to it or not. He said the state gives him the legal authority to provide care to those who are a danger to themselves or unable to meet their basic needs.

"Even if you took it at face value, we actually don't have the beds, literally, in the hospitals to do that and, lastly, what is missing, woefully, is the information on the continuum of care that's needed," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

READ MOREBlistering state audit finds New York City's homeless services are failing people with mental illness

Opponents argue it's investments in education, social services, and mental health that are the real solution. But many of those areas have or are expected to experience drastic cuts.

With a hearing on the mayor's November financial plan happening Thursday, they are imploring for funds to be restored.

"How the hell can you run this city and reduce the homeless when you cutting all these important programs that is needed?" said Althea Matthews, who lives in a shelter.

Adams responded Wednesday to the growing criticism, emphasizing his homeless policy only applies to a small group of people and will not be led by police officers.

"People are actually trying to say, 'Let's wait until they harm someone. Let's wait until they harm themselves,' and we are not going to have that policy in this city while I'm the mayor of this city," Adams said.

But advocates argue the best way to show the city cares is by restoring vital services instead of further cuts.

Thursday's hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be open for public comment.  

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