Photo from 9th Street on April 6 by Stacie Joy
Local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera is demanding an immediate end to "the dehumanizing homeless encampment sweeps" in the East Village and throughout New York City.
The demands came in a letter that Rivera sent to Mayor Adams this past Thursday...
For over a month, my office, other local elected officials, and community leaders have conveyed to your office through meetings, phone calls, and emails that these sweeps represent an egregious misappropriation of resources with very few housing placements as outcomes and further deepen the mistrust between government and the public. The acts themselves also appear to be among the most tragic misfires in community engagement to have transpired in recent years. Despite our best efforts in seeking your attention to this urgent matter, yesterday afternoon the NYPD Strategic Response Group, an entity designated for counterterrorism efforts, aggressively executed multiple arrests, a continuation of the harmful behavior we have witnessed since the first confrontation at the intersection of East 9th Street and Avenue B in Manhattan on April 6, 2022.I both respect and commend your administration's commitment to ending homelessness in New York City. With that goal in mind, I urge you to put an end to the ineffective sweeps and instead commit to supporting and investing in the policies and programs our communities deserve. We must build more housing across the five boroughs and we should start now; we must legalize nontraditional uses for housing, like basements and vacant commercial properties; and we must fully staff the agency teams tasked with securing affordable housing for the New Yorkers who qualify.
A Community Board 3 committee drafted a resolution in support of the asks of the letter, which will go to the full Board for a vote on May 24.
The NYPD and other city agencies have continued with their sweeps, with at least seven on the group of several unhoused residents staying in tents on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C under the sidewalk bridge at the former P.S. 64. There was yet another one — unannounced — yesterday on Ninth Street that led to more arrests.
According to city stats cited by The New York Times, there have been more than 700 cleanups from March 18 to May 1 — many of them of the same site multiple times — and 39 people have accepted the placement into shelters.
"Our teams are working professionally and diligently every day to make sure that every New Yorker living on the street knows they have a better option while ensuring that everyone who lives in or visits our city can enjoy the clean public spaces we all deserve," Mayor Adams said in a statement last week.
And as the Times noted: "Several videos of officers roughly handling homeless people and their belongings have circulated widely on social media, complicating Mr. Adams's attempts to portray the dismantling of encampments as something being done for the good of the homeless people themselves."