Not a Single Reporter Will Follow Up on Eric Adams’ Vague Promise of Placing Purged Homeless in “Healthy Living Conditions”
A challenge to New York Media to, for once, hold electeds accountable for vague promises concerning alleged housing for the unhoused
At an AIPAC “real estate luncheon” yesterday—in front of a crowd of billionaires and multimillionaires—New York Mayor Eric Adams announced yet another crackdown on the city’s homeless population. Building off a similar plan to purge the unhoused seeking warmth in New York’s subway system, Adams laid out a new policy of “removing encampments” “within two weeks” throughout the city.
The announcement was met with great applause by the crowd of wealthy real estate developers, many of whom were among Eric Adams’ major backers. Adams raked in more campaign cash than any other 2021 candidate by a wide margin, doing particularly well among the city’s real estate interests, giving him a direct incentive to criminalize homelessness.
As laid out in my March 4 post detailing the various ways Democratic mayors pitch cruel anti-homeless policy to liberal voters and media, Adams couched his announcement in vague promises of alternative “healthy living conditions” that his administration will allegedly provide to those removed from public spaces. As I laid out in the piece, these warm and fuzzy promises are par for course when major homeless “clean ups” are announced by liberal mayors. What’s not par for course, and what almost never happens, is the media actually clarifying what these promises entail, what the timeline is on their implication, what a criteria for success looks like, and what percent of those removed from their current living conditions are actually housed in a clean and stable public housing options.
The available figures don’t tell a reassuring story. According to the Mayor's own data from his recent MTA purge, only 22 of the 1,000 removed from the subway system by the police over the relevant time frame were placed in alternative housing. For those counting, this is 2.2 percent, which may as well be zero percent.
Of course, Mayor Adams’ office has repeatedly framed the issue as one of unwillingness on the part of the unhoused to take what the city has to offer. Note the framing of the unhoused not “accepting shelter.” Homeless activists have laid out, in detail, why these options are difficult, if not impossible, for most unhoused people to accept. Shelters are more often than not less safe than the streets; they abide by strict abstinence-type standards, are places of abuse, don’t allow pets, divide families, and enforce a strict, dehumanizing regime of rules that are difficult for most housing insecure people to follow. But above all, shelters are not what the homeless actually need: they’re not stable, secure housing.
Adams’ knack for speaking in the vague language of progress when mapping out punitive anti-homeless policy crossed wires a bit during his speech, exposing, briefly, the absurdity of the double game at work. As The New York Times reported:
Mr. Adams acknowledged in the interview that the city could not force anyone to stay at a homeless shelter. “We can’t stop an individual from sleeping on the street based on law, and we’re not going to violate that law,” he said.
“But you can’t build a miniature house made out of cardboard on the streets. That’s inhumane.”
It’s not the state of the homeless person, or the fact that they’re outside during freezing temperatures, but the fact that they build shelter for themselves that’s “inhumane”? It’s inhumane to Adams and the real estate crowd he was speaking to, that they have to see evidence of entrenched poverty, and Adams is making it clear his task is getting it out of sight and out of mind.
So this post is both a prediction and a challenge to New York media: In six weeks, follow up on the mayor’s vague claim that the city will provide “healthy living conditions” to those the administration and NYPD remove from public spaces. What percent of those “cleaned up” from the streets received these living conditions? Where did they end up? How many were simply arrested and jailed? I predict that no one in New York media will actually do this and this rhetorical scam—where pro-police liberal mayors get to couch cruel policies in public health-ese by doing P.R.-driven box-checking about “social services,” “mental health,” and “healthy living conditions”—will continue right on schedule. These vague claims will never be followed up on, quantified, or verified by anyone, other than the activists and directly impacted people fighting these policies. The actual policy of simply displacing New York’s homeless population without providing sufficient and meaningful housing, and hoping to arrest and harass them from place to place until they leave city limits, will march on without any real pushback from any press outlets.