Gov. Cuomo on Monday griped about encampments of homeless people across New York City — and urged Mayor de Blasio to address the problem by forcing people off the streets and into shelters that were emptied during the height of the pandemic.
“Not only is a homeless encampment a violation of a person’s dignity, it’s also a public health threat,” Cuomo said during a call with reporters. “People get nervous when they walk by them.”
The governor’s aides declined to specify exactly where the problematic encampments were located.
City officials in April transitioned some homeless people out of cramped shelters and into hotels and other safe-haven locations to provide more space for social distancing. Since then, the shelters have remained fully staffed, but have housed far fewer people.
City Department of Social Services officials over the last month began to clear homeless people out of temporary housing in hotels.
A top Cuomo administration official said hotels were only intended as a temporary solution for homeless New Yorkers and do not offer the same services like shelters. In the coming weeks the state will provide guidance for shelters to ensure they don’t turn into COVID-19 hotspots, the official said.
Dozens of homeless New Yorkers who have spoken with the Daily News in recent months said they feared for their safety in the city’s shelters even before the pandemic hit and have no interest in returning to them.
Cuomo in May took steps to boot homeless riders off city subway trains when he ordered the system closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each night.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board last week took further steps to keep destitute riders off the subway by passing a new rule that requires straphangers to exit stations when their train reaches the last stop on a line.
With fall approaching and temperatures dropping, some people who sleep on trains overnight have instead begun to sleep on subway platforms where they’re left unbothered by cops, according to interviews and photos shared by late-shift transit workers.
“The weather’s getting cold,” said Cuomo. “Nobody should be living on the street, especially in the middle of a global health pandemic.”