NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today released the Subway Safety Plan, which lays out how his administration will begin addressing public safety concerns and supporting people experiencing homelessness and serious mental illness on New York City’s subways. The plan includes comprehensive investments in short- and medium-term solutions, including expanded outreach teams with New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and clinicians, additional housing and mental health resources, and outlines long-term systems improvements through changes to state and federal laws to connect more New Yorkers to the care they need. A key component of the plan will also direct NYPD personnel to assist in enforcing certain subway rules, such as sleeping across multiple seats, exhibiting aggressive behavior to passengers, or creating an unsanitary environment.
“It is cruel and inhumane to allow unhoused people to live on the subway, and unfair to paying passengers and transit workers who deserve a clean, orderly, and safe environment,” said Mayor Adams. “The days of turning a blind eye to this growing problem are over, and I look forward to collaborating with the state, the federal government, TWU, advocates, and law enforcement to solve this challenge. It will take time, but our work starts now.”
“For too long our mental health care system suffered from disinvestment, and the pandemic has only made things harder for New Yorkers with serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “I am proud to stand with Mayor Adams and share our efforts to boost mental health treatment services for those who lack stable housing, and bring more psychiatric beds online. We must work together to keep our subways — the lifeblood of New York City — safe for all riders, and to get help and services to those in need.”
The plan lays out how the Adams administration, in partnership with the MTA and other state entities, will confront these concurrent challenges on our subways. Investments in people will provide immediate support and protection to New Yorkers, while investments in places like drop-in-centers, safe havens, stabilization beds, and Street Homeless Outreach Wellness vans, as well as policy changes at local, state, and federal levels will provide medium- and long-term solutions. These include:
- Deploying up to 30 Joint Response Teams that bring together DHS, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYPD, and community-based providers in high-need locations across our city.
- Training NYPD officers in our subway system to enforce the MTA and New York City Transit Authority’s rules of conduct in a fair and transparent way.
- Expanding Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division “B-HEARD” teams to six new precincts, more than doubling the precincts covered to 11. These teams will expand on the already-successful pilot of answering non-violent 911 mental health calls with mental health professionals.
- Incorporating medical services into DHS sites serving individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Expanded DHS Safe Havens and stabilization bed programs will offer on-site physical and behavioral health care to immediately address clients’ needs.
- Immediately improving coordination across government with weekly “Enhanced Outreach Taskforce” meetings that bring together senior leaders from 13 city and state agencies to address issues quickly.
- Creating new Drop-in-Centers to provide an immediate pathway for individuals to come indoors, and exploring opportunities to site Drop-in-Centers close to key subway stations to directly transition individuals from trains and platforms to safe spaces.
- Streamlining the placement process into supportive housing and reducing the amount of paperwork it takes to prove eligibility.
- Calling on state government to expand psychiatric bed resources and amending Kendra’s Law to improve mental health care delivery for New Yorkers on Assisted Outpatient Treatment.
- Requiring — instead of requesting — everyone to leave the train and the station at the end of the line.
“Today's plan outlines several ways that we can begin to address the challenges of supporting those with mental illness and keep our city safe,” said First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo. “Our administration looks forward to working with our state partners to provide much needed resources for those experiencing homelessness and serious mental illness on our city's subways.”.