The Mental Health Project and Safety Net Project are extremely dismayed by Mayor Adams’ announcement that he will push city agencies to involuntarily hospitalize homeless New Yorkers who appear to have mental health concerns. Forcibly hospitalizing homeless individuals is not the answer to any of the issues Mayor Adams has stated that he seeks to address and will likely violate federal and state law. Instead, this policy is part of the Mayor’s broken windows policing efforts and will only cause more harm, violence, and trauma to homeless people.
Recent reports have documented that tens of thousands of units – many of them affordable housing apartments built with City subsidies – are being kept vacant across the five boroughs. Earlier this month NYC also revealed that approximately 2,600 units for individuals who are currently homeless and struggling with a mental health concern were sitting vacant. We urge Mayor Adams to immediately reverse course and focus his administration’s attention on getting homeless individuals into these empty apartments as soon as possible. Some people will want and benefit from access to supportive housing; others will want and benefit from mainstream apartments. We hope that the Mayor will re-focus his energy to address longstanding bureaucratic dysfunction, inaccessibility, cumbersome application and eligibility requirements, and discriminatory practices which have prevented so many homeless people from getting housed.