Monday, October 7, 2019

Reports: Chinatown murders bring renewed attention to the city’s street homeless

[Comptroller Scott M. Stringer at a vigil for the victims this morning]

The shocking murders of four homeless men early Saturday morning in Chinatown have brought more media attention to the dangers of living on the street.

In a story published in today's paper, the Times provides historical context for the area around the Bowery in which the men were killed.

[T]he Bowery, an area of Lower Manhattan known in the 1930s as New York’s skid row, has long served as a daunting example of the city’s difficulties in addressing street homelessness. If anything, the problem is getting worse: The area is now drawing younger homeless people, many with drug and mental health problems, a population that the city’s traditional outreach methods have struggled to confront.

Despite the luxurification of the Bowery and surrounding area in recent years, the area — specifically Community District 3 — still has one of the highest concentrations of homeless shelters (some two dozen) in Manhattan.

The article discusses the ongoing concerns "about a new subpopulation within the homeless community."

A recent report described them as “travelers” or “young homeless people who travel to destinations depending on the weather, and often include instances of drug use and aggression.”

Over the past three years, complaints have increased about these younger arrivals, and the police and homeless outreach workers have said that “traditional outreach is not successful with this population,” according to the report.

The article includes comments from local community leaders on the need for better mental health services and additional supportive housing and safe-haven beds. Find the article at this link.

In court yesterday, the suspect, 24-year-old Rodriguez “Randy” Santos, was charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Meanwhile, city officials say they will dispatch mental health outreach teams and increase the number of homeless outreach teams who have access to psychiatrists and substance abuse resources, per ABC 7.

The Times says that the homelessness crisis "has been the most intractable problem of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure."


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, gubmint gonna solve this problem. MORE MONEY for them to spend and lose...ask the mayor's wife how well that works out.

Neighbor said...

Maybe if the police actually enforced any semblance of the rule of law against these people this problem wouldn't be so bad. Obviously a lot of that probably extends from mandates from De Blasio, but either way it's frustrating.

Tompkins Square Park today is a great case in point - a ton of crusties in the middle of the large grassy area and there is a house made out of boxes with an umbrella roof. What the hell is going on these days?

Anonymous said...

As long as substantial outreach does not include significant jail time, nothing will change the situation.

Anonymous said...

@2:19pm: What's going on is that the inmates are in charge of the asylum. I am all in favor of providing shelter & help to the homeless, but there HAS to be a way to hold the young punky crusties to some standard. They are just the laziest effin' bunch of losers, and their aggression and sense of entitlement are extraordinary.

Unfortunately I don't think De Blah-sio has the slightest ability or interest in doing ANYTHING about this issue. He is beyond useless.

Anonymous said...

Draft Rudy.

Neighbor said...

Completely agree 2:53pm. We can have progressive policies that support those that are most in need AND enforce our laws + maintain quality of life for everyone

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Can't draft Rudy; he's either going to be in the nuthouse or the Big House soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Please NYC, stop creating circumstances where more and more people become homeless.
Stop building luxury investment properties that sit empty. There is no reason any landlord should be given a tax break for having an empty property. Subsidized housing goes to single people earning $100,000 a year, that's middle income. meanwhile low earners who really have no other choice but to win in the housing lottery, are vulnerable to becoming homeless. God forbid you have any kind of disability. NYU should be forced to pay a voluntary tax to give back to the neighborhood and help people stay in their homes, since competing with their dorm rates spurred much of the gentrification. But you've heard it all before. Bad PR that may discourage developers is all the Mayor cares about.

Felton Davis said...

Naked City, circa 1962. Gang searches out derelicts in the night, and methodically murders them, one after another. Producers wanted a nice, clean-cut guy for the head assasin, so they cast Robert Redford. As they say, you can't make this up.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:27 AM Please stop trying to reframe this problem as an "affordable housing" issue, the vast majority of people I see on the street every single day are not a hot meal and a warm bed from being on the straight and narrow, they are not on the street because they cannot afford rent. The majority I see are severely mentally disturbed and have completely debilitating drug habits. Talk a walk through Sarah D. Roosevelt park sometime and count the addicts nodding off on benches on any given afternoon, there has always been this element in the neighborhood because of the amount of shelters in the area but over the past 5 years it has gotten really really bad. I commend the people doing outreach at BRC because it must be a difficult job, but many of their workers are young people who aren't in a position of any type of authority, so there is very little that they can do. How many more millions of tax dollars are they going to dump into outreach programs that aren't even putting a dent in this problem?

Anonymous said...

3:44 (sadly) has it right.

Anonymous said...

Nope. 3:44 Reframing it as an affordable housing issue is wrong? Either you are a developer or maybe took a class in homelessness at Brown University This is WHAT YOU SEE. The “optics”. The people who are *pushed* out of their homes are probably doing their best to maintain a thread of dignity and as well doing their best to hop to it in the bureaucratic run around to get “ help”- because the way it’s designed is things have to get really bad first in order to get any help at all. And making more affordable housing for low earners fits here, FYI .You don’t have a clue what you are talking about or you really don’t care. I worry about being homeless all the time because I have a scumbag landlord and quality of life issues. I’m a successful self employed educated and sane person who works in the arts. I’ve had a series of circumstances that have made it difficult to work. I have no safety net and a shitty family- actually social workers I have spoken to are some of the few who get it- because I think they see first hand that this is a common denominator- the lack of a safety net and family support. I’m trapped in my apartment that is killing me and the city is complicit ( with sociopathic landlords ) the councilpersons office gave me the name of an agency, that basically wrote me back to say oh you have the right agency, about the other agency I mentioned in my query letter to them. Ha ha ha. Legal help? Ha ha ha. I did have legal help via an org. at one juncture and all they could say to me was “ you don’t want to go to trial because if you lose you’ll have to pay their legal fees” ( bend over and take it) anyway I could go on, and you may still not get it, or care. Don’t even get me started if one has a disability. One person I know with a disability told me they were dropped from food stamps and health care. The other lives with a quality of life issue and was apologetic about it because the disease makes them more vulnerable to certain conditions. For shame. The greatest city in the world? I think not, if it only caters to developers and their target clients, and entertainment for tourists.

Anonymous said...

@3:44 “The surest way to keep a problem from being solved is to deny that problem exists. Telling people not to complain is a way of keeping social issues from being addressed. It trivializes the grievances of the vulnerable, making the burdened feel like burdens. Telling people not to complain is an act of power, a way of asserting that one's position is more important than another one's pain. People who say "stop complaining" always have the right to stop listening. But those who complain have often been denied the right to speak.”
Sarah Kendzior, The View From Flyover Country: Essays by Sarah Kendzior