The mayor defends the destruction of homeless camps as he establishes more than 350 new shelters in NYC

Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday that the city will add more than 350 new beds for the homeless by the end of this week as part of his government’s planned 500-bed expansion to address homelessness on the streets.

The rollout comes as the city ramps up controversial efforts to physically remove homeless encampments that are seen across the city, a move that advocacy groups have scorned. Over the weekend, Adams pledged to build 150 camps over a two-week period, raising questions from advocates about whether the city has adequate bed capacity for those sleeping on the streets.

On Monday, some people forced to leave their camps under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway said they were unsure where to go. Adams said the city will provide more details on Wednesday about how many of those living in camps have been placed in emergency shelters.

The new beds are in safe havens and stabilization shelters, officials said. Both are facilities with few restrictions, although safe havens typically offer a wider range of services, including mental health and substance abuse. Many who have stayed in shelters have said they prefer safe havens — which often offer private rooms — to congregation or group shelters.

Kate Smart, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said not all available beds are in private rooms.

New York City has about 48,000 People living in shelters, well below peak during the pandemic but still around 7,000 more than a decade ago, records showed.

Speaking at the Morris Avenue ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Bronx, Adams said he was trying to rectify years of government disruption that have allowed people to live on the streets and on subways. The New York Post recently reported a survey showing that the city has 2,500 vacant apartments dedicated specifically to the homeless.

“Sometimes I feel like this is a comedy show,” the mayor said. “But it’s so serious that you can’t laugh at this dysfunctionality and this betrayal of New Yorkers.”

“This is an indicator of what’s possible,” he added, referring to the new 80-bed shelter in the Bronx.

In a statement, Jacquelyn Simone of the Coalition for the Homeless praised the mayor for adding more emergency shelters but criticized the removal of camps, calling police and sweepers “damaging, counterproductive strategies that can actually further remove vulnerable homeless people from services.” The mayor defends the destruction of homeless camps as he establishes more than 350 new shelters in NYC

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