Over 130 Homeless Individuals Placed In Shelters During 1st Subway Shutdown

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Over 1,000 NYPD officers and 700 cleaners were part of the overnight debut of the subway shutdown. 

The city says 139 homeless individuals were moved into shelters and the MTA says another 2,000 people were escorted off the trains. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio says of the 252 homeless individuals approached by outreach workers, the number that accepted an offer for shelter was positive. But the sheer population of homeless individuals on the trains is cause for concern.

“We've never seen this many people, this high a percentage of people living on the streets agree to something different,” he said.

The initial snapshot was powerful and positive, the mayor said.

“If it's anything like we saw last night in terms of the ability to reach people, actually change their lives and potentially get them off the street for good, that could have a really transcendent long-term effect on this city,” de Blasio said.

“252 is a very reasonable number in comparison, again, to what people thought might be living in the stations,” explains NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan.

He said many people expected the number to be higher, but added that some homeless individuals may decide to return to the subways.

The department thinks the first night went smoothly, but will be reassessing the need for 1,000 cops on the job as well.

“Whether we need to have people signed directly to those stations or we can have roving patrols covering those stations,” Monahan said.

Most people were removed after a trains final stop. Some homeless choose the subway over single adult shelters out of fear of getting coronavirus. 

The mayor says the city has a range of options tailored to each person including thousands of commercial hotel rooms.

MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said Wednesday morning on WCBS 880 that the first night of the subway shutdown was a complete success.

“I think it’s fair to say that it was a quite successful first closing of the subways overnight for the first time in the 115-year history of the subway,” Foye told WCBS 880's Steve Scott. “We cleaned and disinfected nearly every car in service.”

All 472 stations across the system are being closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each morning so workers can disinfect trains in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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