In Manhattan, Daily Sweeps Target Homeless New Yorkers

In Manhattan, Daily Sweeps Target Homeless New Yorkers
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In Manhattan, Daily Sweeps Target Homeless New Yorkers

In Manhattan, Daily Sweeps Target Homeless New Yorkers

Weather situation: Quite sunny. High around 80.

Parking on the alternative side: Valid until August 15 (Feast of the Assumption).

A key part of New York City’s economic recovery from the pandemic, according to many experts and city leaders, will be the return of office workers and tourists to Manhattan. As the authorities seek to ensure this recovery, they have increasingly sought to eliminate the homeless population from the streets of the district.

Some days, city workers clear dozens of camps. Defenders said the sweeps were doing harm by disrupting the lives of homeless residents through aggressive tactics that discourage people from seeking or accepting help from the city.

“They are trying to make life on the streets so miserable that people will enter shelters, but it is a cruel and ineffective approach,” said Josh Dean, founder of, a political group focused on homelessness. in the street.

[Since late May, teams of sanitation workers, police officers and outreach workers have cruised Manhattan daily to tear down encampments.]

The cleanings defy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that say that if private rooms are not available for people sleeping rough, then cities should “allow people who live homeless or in settlements to stay where they are. they are “.

Still, the city has increased its number of cleanings during the pandemic. In 2020, from March 1 to December 12, the city performed 1,077 cleanings, up from 543 during the same period in 2019, according to figures released by the city in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Safety Net Project. of the Urban. Justice Center.

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This year, between January and March 23 – even before the city stepped up its efforts in May – there were 873 sweeps, up from 94 during the same period in 2019.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a radio interview on HOT 97 that the city had to “find even better ways” to deal with homelessness on the streets. But he also said the city’s “intensive outreach” has helped some 160,000 New Yorkers struggling with homelessness find permanent housing over the past eight years.

“We now refer outreach workers to the same person if it takes 10 times, 20 times, a hundred times to convince someone to come,” he said.

The city’s homeless services department said it was using cleanings only for “service-resistant individuals” and pledged to help people find housing.

“The name of the game is compassionate and consistent outreach,” said Bill Neidhardt, spokesperson for the mayor, in a statement. “The end goal is always permanent housing. “

Matt Stevens of The Times writes:

The 6.5-acre bluestone maze emerging from a quarry in Saugerties, NY, is one of the wonders of the Hudson Valley, an artistic tour de force from a self-taught sculptor who has spent over the half of his life creating it with thousands of rocks, endless patience and no cement.

Opus 40, whose very name evokes the tenacity of its creator, Harvey Fite, is a monument to the upper limits of hard work and dedication that took almost 37 years to build.

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But now, some say, this triumph of the soul has been tarnished by the ordinary: a chain-link fence, nearly 400 feet long, which wraps around one of its edges, spoils its beauty and is the product of a long, smoldering dispute.

“A man built it all, it’s amazing,” said Alvah L. Weeks Jr., the city’s building inspector. “It’s sad, this fence. Why haven’t you been able to find something? “

Participants in the litigation include the Fite family, the association that operates Opus 40 and the neighbors around it. While the feud is full of unsubstantiated theories and unsolicited recriminations, it comes down to a fight over the house Harvey Fite built that adjoins his masterful creation.

The house is still owned by Fite’s 81-year-old son-in-law Tad Richards and his wife, Pat, and is operated by their 20-year-old grandson, who rented it online, allowed guests to camp nearby and used it. as a gathering place.

Neighbors have complained about events and Airbnb guests, who they say make noise until the wee hours of the morning. The small nonprofit that runs the site believes these activities pose a security risk and legal liability.

Enter the fence, in May, that the association erected to separate the genius of Fite, which they own, from the house of Fite, which they do not have.

It’s Monday – get out of the fence.

A gray-haired man sitting across from me intervened.

“Fettuccine,” he said.

I laughed. I was the only one of the dozen nearby passengers who seemed to have heard and understood the joke.

Minutes later, after the train surfaced under the East River and proceeded to Queensboro Plaza, the man stood up to exit the train.

He turned to me as he walked through the door.

“Farewell, linguine,” he cried.

– Cynthia Wachtell

Illustrated by Agnès Lee. Read more about the metropolitan agenda here.

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