The Mayor of New York announced this week his decision to ban homeless people from sleeping on trains or using them as shelter at night. At the same time, he announced that he will deploy many police officers, as well as mental health workers, to deal with this issue, and that he will start enforcing the relevant laws much more strictly than before.
“People tell me about their fear of using the system… And we’re going to ensure that fear is not New York’s reality,” the Mayor said.
It is indeed a difficult problem that requires a radical solution. The subway’s image is bad, as crime has reached high levels. More and more we read about an innocent person waiting on the platform to catch a train and someone suddenly comes from behind him and pushes him onto the tracks.
So the Mayor’s decision is correct. The question is, however: fine, they will get them out of the subway – but what will they do with them? Will they provide food and shelter, or leave them on the street to endanger pedestrians? And we are not talking about one or two, but many thousands of people who for some reason or another became homeless.
There is no evidence that shows how many of them became homeless…voluntarily.
What is certain is that the vast majority do it out of necessity. Either they have psychological problems, or they just cannot pay their rent and are thrown onto the street. Rental prices have soared. The average rent in America’s 50 largest cities increased by 19.3% in December compared to the previous December for apartments with two or fewer bedrooms. In the midst of a pandemic.
And inflation in January increased by 7.5% compared to the previous year. The largest increase in 40 years. Yes, unemployment is at an all-time low, but we have to admit that sometimes wages are not high enough to cover living expenses.
So, the decision of the Mayor is correct. Crime must be fought wherever it occurs. It is impossible for people to be afraid to walk the streets of New York or to take the train. At the same time, however, society must bend their attention and compassion towards the problems of these people in general, and especially to the majority of cases of those who became homeless out of necessity.