Homeless seek refuge in New York subways amidst coronavirus

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Homeless New Yorkers with no place to go during the COVID-19 pandemic find refuge in the city’s metros, video of the Sunday shows.

The clip for an underground train 2 shows four apparently homeless people scattered across the train, which is filled with garbage. Three other passengers on the train all wear masks.

MTA president Pat Foye said the increase in the number of homeless people on the metro was an optical illusion caused by fewer cyclists.

But Giselle Routhier of the Coalition for the Homeless told The Post that it is likely, though difficult to confirm, that more homeless people will seek refuge in the transit system than before the pandemic.

Metro stations and trains are some of the few indoor spaces still available for gathering.

“People are struggling to survive, trying to find a place to live,” said Routhier. “Because so many places have closed, there is a huge shortage of access to bathrooms, showers, food clothes and safe indoor spaces. “

Routhier and other advocates want the city to provide hotel rooms for the homeless, whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms, instead of locking them up in shelters where the disease is easier to contract .

“It is the responsibility of [the city] get out there and give people a real option and a safe place to go, ”she said. “The best option we have now is seclusion in a private hotel room, which is a private space with a private bathroom. “

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Saturday that the city would move 6,000 homeless people – a third of the residents of the shelter system – from shelters to hotels by April 20. The Homeless Coalition said the move “does not come close to the scale or the urgency of the need”, which they estimate to be tens of thousands.

Transit workers have been sounding the alarm in recent weeks over what they see as the MTA’s inability to adequately protect them and their customers from coronavirus, and many cite the presence of homeless people in transit as a particular source of apprehension and stress.

More than 50 MTA employees died from complications from COVID-19, and nearly 1,900 of the 72,000 employees have been positive since Friday.

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