We join our grassroots partners in condemning Mayor Adams’ directive and legislative agenda for the sweeping detention of homeless New Yorkers. This policy would provide law enforcement with indiscriminate license to involuntarily hospitalize anyone who they determine to be unhoused and mentally ill.
Our work is guided by our deep involvment within community organizing groups. TakeRoot is a longtime voting member of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and a founding partner of Supportive Housing Organized and United Tenants (SHOUT). CPR is an unprecedented membership campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. SHOUT represents tenants and applicants from across New York City, including those living with disabilities (including mental health conditions), who are currently or formerly homeless and navigating the supportive housing process in NYC. SHOUT is the first organizing group in New York City created by and for supportive housing tenants and applicants.
About 2,600 supportive housing units are vacant due to bureaucracy, cherry picking, and discrimination by supportive housing providers. That’s enough units to house most of the estimated 3,400 unhoused people in New York City. SHOUT fought for the passage of Local Law 3, the first reporting bill requiring the city to compile data on supportive housing applications, interviews, and acceptances/rejections. The resulting report, released in August, 2022, reveals the many ways that the city has failed to connect supportive housing applicants to available units. It shows that fewer than 20 unsheltered New Yorkers eligible for supportive housing were even interviewed for supportive housing, and only 16 were accepted to supportive housing placements. The shocking number of eligible applicants rejected from supportive housing reflects the badly considered and out of touch application process, and a clear lack of accommodation for applicants’ documented disabilities. Mayor Adams has not commented on the report.
It is galling that, only three months later, instead of making supportive housing available to those who need and want it, Mayor Adams is sic’ing the police on them. This also comes after the Mayor’s initial budget plan cut $615 million from Homeless Services and police arrests of hundreds of people in the subway system have steadily increased. SHOUT reminds us in their statement that this latest move by Mayor Adams is about fearmongering and control, not “safety.”
CPR spokesperson Keli Young said, “Sweeping detention of people who may or may not be struggling with their mental health, as determined by unqualified law enforcement officers is not just unconscionable, it’s dangerous. The Mayor is once again deploying the NYPD as the city’s de-facto mental health workers instead of making the life-saving investments in mental health services and housing. The NYPD has a documented history of killing people they perceive to be in a mental health crisis and there is nothing in the Mayor’s plan to suggest that this will be any less deadly.
“Rounding up individuals, sending them to hospital emergency rooms against their will, and holding them there for undetermined amounts of time fails to address the lack of adequate mental health services in this city. This is not a solution, this is coercion and control and it will not make things safer for anyone.
“One week after he proposed cutting funding to the city agencies that provide these critical services, the Mayor is making vague promises about committing to mental health prevention services and critical wrap-around support such as housing. People struggling with serious mental illness need community-based care with providers they trust and with services that support their self-determination. The Mayor should be making real investments in these programs instead of vague and empty promises. We need real investment into solutions that support our communities like housing and mental health services, not increased policing.”
Originally posted Nov 29, 2022. Updated Dec 8, 2022.