The MTA has as soon as once more discovered itself within the crosshairs of a debate over the way it offers with homeless folks sleeping or resting within the subway system. On Friday, somebody the MTA described as a “junior” worker responded to a tweet asking why benches had been faraway from the twenty third Road F/M subway station. The worker, who used the initials JP, wrote to the involved commuter that the benches had been eliminated to “stop the homeless from sleeping on them.”
The tweet was quickly deleted, and the MTA has refused to say why the benches had been eliminated.
In a press release, MTA spokesperson Abbey Collins wrote that the tweet was posted in error, including: “The subway will not be an alternative choice to a shelter and homeless New Yorkers deserve significantly better care. We have now been working with the Metropolis on this essential difficulty and have requested for extra devoted psychological well being and medical assets that are urgently wanted to unravel the homeless disaster that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
But, she refused to say what number of benches had been eliminated systemwide prior to now 12 months, or whether or not the benches had been eliminated to stop homeless folks from utilizing them, because the tweet stated.
Whereas the MTA blames town for not doing extra to handle the continuing housing disaster, during which each just lately and chronically homeless New Yorkers have sought refuge within the subway system, it additionally has not hidden its personal efforts to thwart folks from spending the evening or extra time within the system both. The removing of the benches on the twenty third Road station could possibly be simply the newest instance.
Final February, the MTA eliminated the backs of subway benches. When Governor Cuomo initiated a pricey, beauty improve of stations in the summertime of 2016, it included the set up of “leaning bars” and dividers on benches, strikes that had been extensively seen as types of hostile structure meant to maintain the homeless from mendacity down.
Final Could, Cuomo ordered the first-ever shutdown of in a single day subway service. The MTA says the in a single day closures are about disinfecting trains (which consultants say is not a major transmission route for COVID-19) and never eradicating the homeless, though that’s what occurs between the hours of 1 a.m. to five a.m.
“Governor Cuomo can’t resolve the housing disaster by transferring homeless folks alongside and shutting the subway to paying riders in a single day,” Danny Pearlstine, Coverage and Communications Director on the Riders Alliance, advised Gothamist/WNYC. “[It] doesn’t resolve the housing disaster, eradicating benches doesn’t resolve it both.”
Joe Rappaport, the Govt Director at Brooklyn Heart for Independence of the Disabled (BCID), seen benches had been faraway from his native station at Borough Corridor somewhat over a 12 months in the past, so he wrote a letter to the MTA.
“And their response was, ‘we’ve obtained complaints from folks that there was a homeless individual utilizing the bench and hanging on the market, and subsequently we eliminated it,’” Rappaport advised Gothamist/WNYC. “It was additionally a bench I usually used, and noticed different folks, principally older folks, utilizing.”
Rappaport is a plaintiff in three lawsuits towards the MTA for failing to adjust to the People With Incapacity Act and the New York Metropolis Human Rights Legislation over accessible stations.
“Ultimately what occurs is that individuals who may want a bench to sit down as a result of they’ve a incapacity or they’re simply drained on the finish of the day, lose out,” Rappaport stated.