NEW YORK, NY — New York City is attempting to address the expanding homelessness on the subways by offering alternative pathways off the streets into transitional and permanent housing.
The New York City Police Department, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the City’s Department of Homeless Services, will provide new options to individuals they encounter in the subway system. Several programs are being developed by NYC outside of the criminal justice system.
“New Yorkers want homeless people in the subway to receive the right interventions that will help them get back on their feet. Subjecting these individuals to criminal justice involvement for low level, non-violent offenses is not the answer and does not help anyone,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This initiative strikes the right balance, and we are excited to give it a try as we expand approaches to prevent and address homelessness.”
Through the Subway Diversion Project, individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness (i.e. having no active legal address at the time of engagement and not residing in shelter) encountered by the NYPD in the transit system in Manhattan and observed to be in violation of New York City Transit Code of Conduct rules, such as fare evasion and lying outstretched, will be offered referrals to services in lieu of civil summonses. The program will begin on July 1st. Participants who opt into the program will complete an assessment with an outreach team, receive a referral to shelter and/or other services, and have their summonses cleared in coordination with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. These individuals will be directed towards a shelter. Incidents of violent crime will still result in arrest and enforcement.
“Our City is focused on continually finding new ways to reach New Yorkers in need where they are and encourage them to accept services,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “In partnership with the NYPD, our HOME-STAT outreach teams continue to bring creative ideas and interventions to the table to build on our progress transitioning more than 2,200 people off the streets and subways and into shelter and housing. Diverting individuals from criminal justice system involvement while helping them come out of the subways and into shelter and housing programs is a win for everyone.”
Throughout their regular tours of duty, when NYPD Transit officers encounter people experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the subway committing Transit Code violations, rather than arrest these individuals and serve them with a civil summons, officers will complete an initial review to determine the individual’s housing status and eligibility for participation in the Subway Diversion Project.