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.”
“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.”
“This plan is rooted in compassion, recognizing the humanity and dignity of fellow New Yorkers in need,” said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Collaborating across government, as well as through public-private non-profit partnerships, we are taking a holistic approach to lift up New Yorkers, connecting those in need to the services and care that will place them on the path to permanent housing and wellbeing. We look forward to improving our care delivery systems in partnership with the state and federal governments so that every New Yorker receives the support they need to live their healthiest life.”
“The new vision for public safety in New York City is about leveraging all of the resources we have to ensure we are implementing a 21st century model of public safety that works for all New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks. “This new plan is a perfect example of how we can bring together support from every corner of city government to build a safer and more just city for all.”“Improving subway safety and succeeding in providing innovative solutions to meaningfully help some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers requires a comprehensive, multi-agency approach,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell. “This plan represents the best of that kind of smart, seamless, collaborative work and also reinforces the NYPD’s core philosophies for public safety by ensuring people abide by all applicable laws and transit rules, while simultaneously connecting people in need to the critical services they deserve.”
“Today, we are putting a stake in the ground for the future and taking a fresh look at one of the most complex and challenging health and social challenges we face as a city,” said incoming Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “We have an opportunity to shine a light on the needs of our fellow New Yorkers living with mental illness and facing homelessness on our subways and on our streets. We must build fundamentally new systems of mental health care, housing, and social infrastructure to ensure our friends, our family, and loved ones have the long-term care and supports they need, and no longer live lives of social and economic isolation and marginalization. This plan is the first step on this journey. I am proud to be a part of an administration that puts people first and is committed to addressing this issue as the humanitarian and public health crisis it is.”
“We are excited at DSS-DHS-HRA to be part of today’s announcement, which sets forward a new roadmap for improving safety and services on our subways by bringing together and leveraging a broad range of experience, expertise, and resources,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins. “As part of this new effort, our teams, who are out there engaging New Yorkers in need 24/7/365, will now be accompanied by clinicians on the subways, providing those DSS-DHS outreach staff with new tools, new partners in this process, and new services to offer — all in a compassionate and caring manner. We look forward to implementing this collaborative plan, which underscores the importance of the work our outreach teams do every day and outlines how this administration intends to take that progress further. And I want to thank Mayor Adams for his leadership on this issue and for bringing together the resources, the tools, and, most importantly, the team needed to effectively support our neighbors living on the streets and subways.”
“These initiatives, and the continued expansion of the successful B-HEARD pilot, will bring much needed support and resources to those who are experiencing profound challenges like serious mental illness and homelessness,” said Tina Chiu and Jason Hansman, acting co-directors, Office of Community and Mental Health. “We welcome continued partnership with agencies to implement these strategic interventions with care and compassion to ensure more New Yorkers get access to the mental health care they need.”
“At every public hospital system where I’ve worked — in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and now New York City — a priority of mine has been a focus on the homeless population,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, president and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals. “Mayor Adams’ plan outlines clear steps to address homelessness on the subway, and it offers an array of services to those in need, including supportive housing. At our hospitals, providers, nurses, and peer counselors work closely together to ensure that our patients who experience housing instability receive the care they deserve.”
“Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams focused from the start on subway safety, and it’s a game changer,” said Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Now, with additional strategies on how to enforce system rules and provide services to vulnerable New Yorkers, we are standing up for millions of riders who want to see change. Together with a CompStat-style metrics-based approach to tracking progress, we can fix these conditions and be in a position to welcome back more and more New Yorkers to a safe subway system.”
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.