New York, NY – New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams and Council Members released the following statements in response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s investments into mental health care and Mayor Eric Adams’ subway safety plan, jointly announced today.
Speaker Adrienne E. Adams said, “Increased mental health care resources and responses are essential to advancing public health and safety in New York City, whether it’s inside or outside of the transit system. Governor Hochul’s actions to increase state funds for mental health care and supportive housing are greatly needed and appreciated. Mayor Adams’ plan to expand the B-HEARD program that utilizes mental health professionals to respond to mental health-related 911 calls is a welcomed approach as well. When we focus on intervening early to prevent crises with the right response and responders, it is in best interest of New Yorkers’ health and safety.
“There are parts of the Mayor’s subway safety plan that seem positive and we look forward to reviewing in more detail, such as the increase in health services at DHS sites, creation of drop-in centers near subway stations, and increased coordination across government,” continued Speaker Adams. “Other areas of the plan need to be examined in greater detail. When it comes to ramping up NYPD enforcement of MTA rules of conduct to force people out of the subway system, we need to be very careful that those efforts aren’t counterproductive by criminalizing people who are in need of housing or treatment. Cycling people through a destabilizing revolving door of the criminal justice system to end up in a worse condition back on the subways and our streets would only make us less safe. For those who need housing or treatment, outreach workers empowered with real pathways to the solutions people need are best equipped to ensure we solve underlying challenges.
“We thank the Governor and Mayor for their continued attention to these issues and look forward to partnering to ensure we are employing the most effective approaches to make New York City healthier and safer.”
Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare said: “The health and safety of New Yorkers must be our priority. Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams’ increased investments in mental health services and supportive housing are essential solutions to addressing the intersection of homelessness, mental health, and public safety. I have concerns about the reliance on police enforcement leading to criminalization that drives people further away from the solutions to their housing, mental health and social service needs. As Chair of the General Welfare Committee, I look forward to hearing more about the details of this plan so that the city’s approach is effective at helping all New Yorkers be healthier and safer by ensuring better access to housing, services and treatment. I want to thank both administrations and state partners for recognizing the need for comprehensive solutions, and look forward to partnering to advance the right approaches for New Yorkers across our city.”
“Our transportation system must be affordable, accessible, safe, and equitable,” said Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Unhoused New Yorkers deserve easy access to quality resources, and riders and transit workers deserve to feel comfortable be safe on all modes of transit. We must get help to those who need it most and keep riders from all five boroughs safer on our trains. Outreach response teams that connect New Yorkers to housing and services should be empowered to help avert crises quickly and effectively. It is also critical that rule enforcement by police not counterproductively undermine these efforts by criminalizing people in need of housing or treatment.”
“I commend Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams for putting forward a plan that places investment in critically needed mental health services, hospital beds, staffing, and supportive housing to address long-standing issues in our healthcare system that is underfunded and under resourced,” said Council Member Gale Brewer, Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations. “I support the interagency approach that enhances outreach services with medical assistance to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the subways, but we need to be mindful of who is providing these services. We must ensure this work is not on the backs of professionals like school nurses who are already in demand and in short supply, may not the best partners for this team.”
Council Member Kamillah Hanks, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, said: “I applaud Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams for focusing on the serious issue of mental health and safety in the NYC Subway system. On the surface, the expansion of mental health professionals responding to non-violent 911 calls and increased NYPD presence seems to strike a balance to protect public safety in the subway system. Outreach workers must have the necessary resources available to give people the wrap-around services they need, including supportive housing and other programs, and the Governor’s increased funding should help to facilitate that goal. The Mayor’s plan on safety in the subway, including streamlining the placement process into supportive housing and deploying Joint Response Teams to needed areas in the City should help to keep commuters safe. The City Council must review all of the plans in detail to ensure effectiveness and fair and reasonable implementation to protect New Yorkers.
“I applaud Mayor Adams’ Subway Safety Plan as a long-awaited and potentially game-changing step towards helping unhoused people get off the streets and into more stable housing,” said Council Member Linda Lee, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Addiction, and Disabilities “Too many of my friends and family have stopped using the subway because they fear being attacked. I hope that this plan turns the corner and makes the subway a safer place for both riders and the housing insecure. These initiatives must support those who need mental health treatment and assistance the most, and not result in over-policing and the criminalization of those who desperately need this care.”