The Homelessness & Mental Health Crisis in NYC

The Homelessness & Mental Health Crisis in NYC

This is a very well-done, bite-sized piece on the mental health and homelessness crisis facing New York right now, and on the controversy surrounding Mayor Eric Adams’ call to expand involuntary hospitalization:

NYC’s mayor faces backlash for planning to involuntarily hospitalize homeless people
Jasmine Garsd and Steve Inskeep
NPR Morning Edition, 1/3/22

Key take-aways:

  • Mental health crises and homelessness have become more visible on the streets of NYC over the last three years
  • NYC’s Coalition for the Homeless believes that Mayor Adams’ proposal will lead to people being “swept up” when they do not need this level of treatment by those without adequate training.
  • Rumor has it that NYPD is very uneasy with the proposed expansion, as they do not feel well-trained to take on this kind of responsibility.
  • All of this is moot, since there aren’t enough beds for either shelter or in-patient mental health programs.
  • A perspective from an unhoused individual resting in Penn Station: We need housing, first and foremost.
  • Mayor Adams is finding himself at the difficult intersection of the need to fix the problem by creating more housing and manage the problem by addressing the acute need on the streets.

New Haven’s situation is analogous: an increase in homelessness driven by a lack of deeply affordable housing and insufficient, street-level mental health services.  Two critical aspects that were not included in this piece, and which affect both NYC and New Haven, is the co-occurring addiction and opioid crises, and the increase in evictions as a result of the higher rents caused by the housing shortage.