May 6, 2020 By Allie Griffin
City workers convinced 139 homeless New Yorkers sleeping in subway cars and stations last night to take refuge at city shelters.
NYPD and MTA officers, along with outreach workers, found 242 homeless people in the subways and stations when trains were closed early this morning from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Each was offered assistance in finding a bed and 139 took the offer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the success of the outreach effort on the first morning of the new nightly closures during the coronavirus pandemic.
“More than half of the people encountered and engaged, agreed to leave the subways, to leave the streets and come in and that’s an amazing reality to begin with,” de Blasio said.
The 139 people have been moved into safe havens and congregant shelters, he said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the mayor announced last week that subway service would end each day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. so cleaning crews can disinfect each subway car and station amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Many elected officials have complained that homeless New Yorkers have taken over the subways as ridership has dramatically reduced with people staying home during the health crisis.
The overnight shutdown means all New Yorkers, including the homeless, must vacate the subways and stations during the specified hours.
Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks did note, however, that some of the homeless people they helped last night will return to the subway.
“Some people may return, but we’ll be back every night, offering that helping hand to bring them off the streets,” Banks said.