Homeless rights advocates in Manhattan release roadmap to aid unhoused, counter encampment sweeps

Despite the subway shooting chaos in Brooklyn, homeless rights advocates pressed on Tuesday in Manhattan with their campaign to convince Mayor Eric Adams to halt his homeless encampment removal initiative.

Standing inside the Fulton Street Subway Station on April 12, the same location where the mayor originally announced a subway safety plan that included removing homeless persons from the subway system, VOCAL-NY — a grassroots community organization — laid out steps they believe the mayor could take to “reverse harm and end homelessness.” 

Believing the encampment removals to be cruel, racist, and unjust, VOCAL-NY put forth what they called a roadmap the mayor could follow in order to pull back on what many feel is a war on the homeless.

Some of the suggestions included using available vacant hosting stock, NYCHA units, and vouchers to rehouse those sleeping on the streets while also providing access to public bathrooms in subways and other accessible locations. The group also called for an immediate end to encampment sweeps.

“There is so much work the Adams administration can do to end homelessness – none of it being encampment sweeps or ousting people from the subways,” said Celina Trowell, VOCAL-NY’s Homelessness Union Organizer. “We can’t emphasize enough the harm that Adams’ tactics are causing, without providing any improvement on quality-of-life issues homeless New Yorkers are facing. This roadmap, driven by directly-impacted New Yorkers, has tangible steps that will actually move people off the streets and shelters, and into housing. We urge the mayor to take heed of this plan.”

Vocal-NY members flock to Fulton Street Station to share their roadmap to aid homeless individuals./ Photo courtesy of Vocal-NY twitter.

When the mayor shared information on the first wave of encampment sweeps last month, he admitted that while over 200 makeshift homes were removed only five homeless individuals accepted DSS-DHS services. With a number of unhoused New Yorkers previously saying that they are afraid of the shelter system, organizations like VOCAL-NY believe the claims demonstrate a disconnect with the way the administration is currently tackling the homeless crisis.

“The mayor needs to stop the sweeps and leave people alone,” said Maria Walles, a leader with Safety Net Activists. “Instead of harassing people and throwing their stuff away, he should offer them single hotel rooms and keys to their own apartments.”

After the roadmap layout was released, VoCAL-NY members marched off an escalator chanting “Fight, fight, housing is a human right” and entered an Uptown Manhattan-bound C train.

While onboard the train, advocates held banners that read, “End homelessness,” as they informed commuters regarding the plight homeless individuals are currently facing.

Vocal-NY members flock to Fulton Street Station to share their roadmap to aid homeless individuals./ Photo courtesy of Vocal-NY twitter.