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Plan targeting homeless in NYC subway stations misses the bigger issue. Housing needs to be a human right
Reporters looking for insight about the new safety plan announced by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul that focuses on homeless people using stations as shelter, please see insight from Syracuse University researcher Gretchen Purser.
Purser is an associate professor at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and researches issues around urban poverty, homelessness, and housing. Last week, the mayor and the governor announced there will be a zero-tolerance policy for people sleeping in trains or in stations or breaking other rules such as littering, aggressive behavior, or loitering.
“I certainly share the view that this is an urgent problem. But the way this story is framed—around escalating crime rates in the subways and the growing discomfort of fare-paying passengers—overlooks the unrelenting vulnerability and violence experienced by the homeless, who are struggling to find both safety and shelter,” said Purser. “Policies that criminalize the homeless, as this one unequivocally does, will only exacerbate the problem. Countless of those riding the trains because they have nowhere else to go will soon find themselves behind bars.”
“Until housing is recognized as a basic human right, homelessness will remain a chronic social problem. The solution to that problem isn’t to engage in therapeutic policing, but to transform housing policy to ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure housing,” said Purser.
To schedule an interview, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of media relations at Syracuse University, at email@example.com or 412-496-0551.