NEW YORK CITY – Amid an ongoing epidemic of crime and violence plaguing his city – during the summer of 2022, serious crime overall surged by over 35 percent – New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a new directive this week that would see mentally ill homeless people who potentially pose a risk to themselves or others forcibly hospitalized prior to the winter weather settling in.
Adams announced the directive – said to focus “action, care and compassion” – at a press conference on Tuesday, saying that it would apply to those suffering from “untreated psychotic disorders who pose a risk of harm to themselves even if they are not an imminent threat to the public.”
Adams said that the move to hospitalize the mentally ill – which will be carried out by the NYPD, FDNY and the Department of Housing – is a move to address the “psychiatric crisis” that often makes the streets and subways of New York City a potential hazard to its citizens.
“The man standing on the street all day across from the building he was evicted from 25 years ago waiting to be let in. The shadow boxer on the street corner in midtown mumbling to himself as he jabs at an invisible adversary,” Adams said Tuesday. “The unresponsive man unable to get off the train at the end of the line without assistance from our mobile crisis team. These New Yorkers, and hundreds of others like them, are in urgent need of treatment, yet often refuse it when offered.”
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“The very nature of their illnesses keeps them from realizing they need intervention and support,” the mayor continued. “Without that intervention, they remain lost and isolated from society, tormented by delusions and disordered thinking. They cycle in and out of hospitals and jails. But New Yorkers rightly expect our city to help them.”
However, the move on Adam’s part to clean up the streets and ensure the safety of both the public and individuals who are unable to properly care for themselves was met with anger and protest on the part of liberal organizations and politicians.
NYC councilmember Tiffany Cabán – a self-described “queer abolitionist” – criticized Adams’ directive, strangely blaming negative interaction outcomes with mentally ill homeless on first responders and not the mentally ill themselves.
“This is deeply problematic,” Cabán said. “I’ve visited trained, dedicated professional mental health first responders across the US. They consistently point out a couple of truths. Often the wrong responder and response is what creates a deadly situation, not the mental health crisis itself.”
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman issued a statement, comparing Adams’ plan to make streets safer to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to curb homelessness during his tenure in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
“The Mayor’s attempt to police away homelessness and sweep individuals out of sight is a page from the failed Giuliani playbook,” Lieberman said. “With no real plan for housing, services, or supports, the administration is choosing handcuffs and coercion.”