The COVID Crisis: City Opens More Beds Expands Outreach To Unsheltered New Yorkers

April 28, 2020

As the City continues to fight COVID-19, Mayor de Blasio announced today that 200 new Safe Haven beds will begin to open this week prioritizing vulnerable New Yorkers living on the streets and subways in high-need areas. The City is also focusing on offering help at up to10 end-of-the-line subway stations citywide, with the goal of bringing more unsheltered New Yorkers off the subways amid the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, the City will call on the MTA to temporarily close these stations during the overnight hours from 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM to allow for more targeted outreach and enhanced sanitization.

“Our COVID-19 response must prioritize the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are doing everything we can to strengthen our subway and street outreach to ensure that every New Yorker who needs a place to sleep will get one.”

More End-of-the-Line Assistance

To help as many unsheltered New Yorkers as possible come off the subways, the City will increase its focus on end-of-line stations, where outreach teams will engage unsheltered New Yorkers who are leaving the subways, connecting anyone who needs it to services and shelter.

The City is calling on the MTA to temporarily close the following stations during the overnight hours from 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM for cleaning to allow for better cleaning and more targeted outreach. To ensure minimal disruptions to service, the City will work with the MTA to provide bus service to riders to access a nearby station while the terminus station is closed.

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The following stations will be targeted for enhanced outreach:

  • Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue D,F
  • Flatbush Ave Brooklyn College 2,5
  • Jamaica – 179th St. F
  • Jamaica Center – Parsons/Archer E
  • WTC – E
  • 96th St./2nd Ave (Q)
  • Pelham Bay Park 6
  • Van Cortlandt Park 242nd St. 1
  • Wakefield – 241st St. 2,5
  • Woodlawn 4

During these operations:

  • When the train is cleaned at the end of the line, the MTA requires all individuals to exit the train, and unsheltered New Yorkers will be offered service by NYPD Homeless Outreach and DHS
  • Outreach teams and NYPD Homeless Outreach will be on hand to engage all unsheltered individuals who are utilizing or leaving the subways about accepting services, survey them for any symptoms, and connect them to care, to isolation, or to shelter as needed

200 New Safe Havens

200 Safe Haven beds will begin to open this week, building on the Mayor’s commitment to supporting vulnerable New Yorkers through the COVID-19 crisis. These Safe Haven and stabilization beds provide safe, secure spaces for unsheltered New Yorkers, and connect them with the resources and support they need to find a lasting path to stability. Beds will be prioritized for the most vulnerable unsheltered New Yorkers living on the streets and subways, with locations strategically placed in areas where outreach teams have experienced activity and determined need.

COVID-19 Street Outreach

During the COVID-19 pandemic, outreach teams have prioritized a health-protection and risk-prevention approach as part of their 24/7 operations, integrating the City’s latest guidance from Health experts and DOHMH screening protocol into their ongoing outreach practice: surveying clients about their health/wellbeing and any signs/symptoms they have experienced, and connecting anyone who needs it to hospitals for assessment and care or to isolation for monitoring and recovery. To date, outreach teams have conducted more than 17,000 engagements on the topic of COVID-19. In each of those engagements, they have surveyed unsheltered New Yorkers to identify whether they have experienced any symptoms. Through these engagements, 12 individuals expressed having had COVID-like symptoms and transported to care and assessment. At this time, these referrals have not resulted in any positive cases.

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