September 24, 2020

The Partnership for the Homeless: MTA is Criminalizing Homelessness Amid COVID-19

—Nonprofit reacts to MTA vote to penalize people experiencing homelessness as the State’s
moratorium on evictions is about to expire, leading to a predicted rise in evictions—

(New York, NY) – Áine Duggan, President & CEO of The Partnership for the Homeless, issued the following statement today after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority codified measures to penalize people experiencing homelessness on public transit.

“As our City and State leaders seek to safeguard the well-being of New Yorkers in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, criminalizing homelessness is bad policy. Homelessness is not a choice. People resort to shelters, the subways and the streets because they have nowhere else to go.

Criminalizing homelessness sends the wrong message to the public, that people who are temporarily without a home do not matter and are worth less than other human beings. This is a longstanding issue rooted in racism, bias, and discrimination.

While citing safety as a motivator, policies such as the ones approved today by the MTA disregard and jeopardize the health and well-being of people experiencing homelessness. As the cold weather and winter approaches, ejecting those experiencing homelessness from warm trains or subway benches onto the streets instead of investing in trained outreach workers and mental health services endangers the lives of New Yorkers who have lost their homes.

Our elected officials and policymakers must address the issues that have led to homelessness – the fiscal and policy decisions that have made New York City less affordable and with inequitable opportunities to access healthcare and housing. It’s crucial not to blame the victims – the people facing or experiencing homelessness – but the policies and practices that created their living situations. They are seeking the same things we all want – shelter, food, a place to call home.

The new MTA policies, in tandem with recent City measures to eject people from temporary shelter, at a time when hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are at risk of eviction and homelessness, lack leadership. What New Yorkers need in this moment is leadership focused on not making homelessness worse. With more than one million people in rent arrears in the city, the focus should be on assisting – not sanctioning – New Yorkers and immediately extending the State’s eviction moratorium until sufficient rental assistance is made available from the federal government to safeguard people in their homes.”

The Partnership for the Homeless has expanded its eviction prevention and financial assistance services to reach more New Yorkers struggling to stay in their homes. As part of its core services, The Partnership provides financial assistance, tenant/landlord mediation and legal referrals, and a range of supportive services to New Yorkers, whether low-income, recently out of work, undocumented, or facing domestic or gender-based violence.”

The Partnership for the Homeless has expanded its eviction prevention and financial assistance services to reach more New Yorkers struggling to stay in their homes. As part of its core services, The Partnership provides financial assistance, tenant/landlord mediation and legal referrals, and a range of supportive services to New Yorkers, whether low-income, recently out of work, undocumented, or facing domestic or gender-based violence.

To apply for support, New Yorkers can visit https://bit.ly/2YGD8tN. Applicants will need to provide supporting paperwork that confirms their identity, where they live, what they owe and their income. Each category allows for multiple options, including a verification letter from a legal/advocacy/community organization. For assistance, questions or more information, New Yorkers can call the Partnership at 212.645.3444 or send an email to info@pfth.org.

About The Partnership for the Homeless

The Partnership for the Homeless seeks to solve homelessness by preventing it with robust programming for New Yorkers at-risk of or experiencing homelessness—now and for future generations. Our work is putting the building blocks in place to address immediate housing needs,
create stability through important health interventions, disrupt generational homelessness, and change the public narrative about homelessness. Learn more at www.partnershipforthehomeless.org.