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Sunday, 17 May 2020

Not riding the rails: The city-state subway closures to move homeless people off trains and out of stations is working

Last stop.
Last stop.(COREY SIPKIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Never mind the caterwauling: The joint state-city Cuomo-de Blasio overnight shutdown of the subways to clean trains and stations and stop homeless people from turning them into makeshift shelters is working, and it is working well.
The system is being disinfected nightly, protecting COVID-19-haunted transit crews and essential workers who rely on the subway. And homeless folks are getting real beds and showers and toilets, instead of using public transit for their needs.
The trains are for traveling on, not for living on. Back when there were bars, a barkeep at closing time would declare: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. It’s now the same underground.
Statistics compiled for the first five days of the project, May 6 to May 10, show that 1,682 people who had to exit the system at 1 a.m. were asked if they wanted help. More than half said yes, with 930 (55%) agreeing to try something else. Of those, 824 got referred to shelters; the 100-plus others, needing medical care, were taken to hospitals. The Department of Homeless Services should be very pleased, even if only a fourth of the people decided to check into the shelter upon arrival. That’s more than 300 souls who improved their lot.
With each contact, the chance also grows that single homeless men, many of whom struggle with addiction and mental health problems, can get attention for those crying needs as well.
The second week, wrapping up this morning, looks just as promising. Keep at it.

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