Last month, New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams issued the orders for law enforcement to remove homeless people from streets if they are deemed mentally ill and dangerous to themselves or others. This approach of forced removal of the homeless has raised legal and ethical questions about the mayor’s directive.
As reported on The Punching Bag Post, Mayor Eric Adams – a Democrat – announced on November 29 that NYC is seeing a mental health crisis and accordingly directed the law enforcement under his authority to remove those mentally ill homeless people that pass as a threat to the safety of others or to themselves. On top of removal from the streets, the mayor also announced hospitalization and treatment for these people without their consent.
Expert on homeless outreach Jay S. Levy, who has decades of working experience with the homeless, disagrees with the NYC mayor’s approach of forced removal of the homeless from the streets. He commented:
“I worked in NYC during the 1980s and this was tried by Mayor Koch. It did not pass legal muster back then and it won’t now.”
Levy, author of Pretreatment Guide for Homeless Outreach & Housing First, advocates housing the homeless as the key step in keeping the homeless off the streets as well as integral to their mental health treatment. In his words:
“Housing is a necessary step. It is an essential part of healthcare and it provides a pretreatment pathway to recovery!”
Donna Lieberman of New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) believes that Mayor Adams’ directive of removing the homeless by force and institutionalizing them involuntarily is likely to violate federal and state laws.
The policy of forced treatment of the mentally ill is also controversial because the approach tends to intimidate homeless and scares them away from other caring people and groups that genuinely care about their well-being. Thus, in the long run, Mayor Adams’ approach is likely to backfire.