NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams says the NYPD, FDNY, and other city agencies will start forcing homeless people who are determined to be suffering a “mental health crisis” off the streets and out of the subway system. They will be taken to a hospital for evaluation even if they refuse to go on their own.
“It is appropriate to use this process when a person refuses voluntary assistance and it appears that they are suffering from mental illness and are a danger to themselves due to an inability to meet their basic needs,” Adams says. “We believe this is the first time that a mayoral administration has given this direction on the ‘basic needs’ standard in official guidance.”
The administration admits that the city is facing a crisis with people experiencing severe mental illnesses on the streets and in the subways.
The mayor says clinical co-response teams will be deployed in New York City’s subways to respond to those with serious mental health issues.
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Adams says state law gives first responders the legal authority to provide care to New Yorkers when severe mental illness prevents them from meeting their own basic human needs and involuntary intervention does not require an “overt act” demonstrating that the person is violent, suicidal, or engaging in outrageously dangerous behavior likely to result in imminent harm.
Mayor Adams also announced today that the city is developing a tele-consult line to provide police officers in the field with direct access to clinicians. This new tele-consult line will provide critical clinical advice to police officers when dealing with individuals in distress and ensure a compassionate response for those suffering with untreated serious mental illness.
The homelessness population typically increases on subways in the winter months due to the cold weather but there has been an ongoing issue with a large population of homeless people, some with mental illness, in subway stations and on trains.
There have been several high-profile violent crimes this year involving homeless people in the subways.
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“You can’t effectively have public safety without adequate mental health care — the two go hand-in-hand,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III. “For too long, public safety personnel’s hands have been tied in getting those in need care before they hurt themselves or others. These directives and proposals are a common-sense way to clear those impediments and get help for those who need it most.”
NYC subway homeless encampments being removed
In February, Mayor Adams rolled out the “Subway Safety Plan” to connect people experiencing homelessness on the subway to shelter. The administration says it has connected more than 3,000 people experiencing homelessness, some of whom are also in a mental health crisis, to shelters and safe havens.
Adams says the city will also seek changes in the law to improve communication between inpatient and outpatient treatment providers, allowing better continuity of care and discharge planning. And we will look to extend the reach of one of our most successful programs — “assisted outpatient treatment” — also known as “Kendra’s Law.”
“We can’t just stabilize people for a few days and send them back out into the city. We must build a continuum of care that helps patients transition into step-down programs and eventually into supportive housing,” Adams said at an event launching the changes.