Homeless men slept crowded in a shelter hallway Tuesday after being transferred from subway stations as part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to get them help.
The single men’s intake at the Bellevue Men’s Shelter became “overrun” and many of the homeless would not get into a bed after being forced off the trains, a police officer with the Department of Homeless Services told the New York Post.
The situation caused tension because there was no room to spread out, the anonymous officer explained, adding, “As you can see, this is not social distancing,” referencing the photo of the scene.
More photos reportedly showed squalid conditions with people sleeping on the trash-strewn floor, nearly all of whom were not wearing masks.
However, de Blasio praised officials Tuesday for getting the homeless off the streets and into shelters where he claimed the majority were “accepting help.”
The crowded conditions were a result of the city being forced to close the trains for cleaning every morning between one and five a.m., according to the Post.
“If the first week is any indication this is a game changer. I think it could fundamentally change the future of homelessness in the city for the better,” de Blasio said.
However, it remained unclear whether some of the 1,258 homeless people who went from the subway into a shelter recently were possibly going in and out of the system repeatedly, the outlet noted.
Following his order for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to come up with a cleaning plan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in April that essential workers should not have to worry about riding the train during the pandemic.
“Respect the essential workers. That is disgusting what is happening on those subway cars. It’s disrespectful to the essential workers who need to ride the subway system. … They deserve better, they will have better,” he said.
Thursday, mayor’s office spokesman Avery Cohen called the situation at Bellevue Men’s Shelter “absolutely unacceptable,” adding that the photos did “not accurately reflect the quality of our outreach work.”
“We immediately addressed the situation, providing a bed for all those in the picture, and conducted an investigation to ensure it does not happen again,” he concluded.