STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — They say you are what you eat.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, known for his “plant-based” diet that sometimes includes fish, compared himself to broccoli Tuesday in that some of his policies might not be getting the robust public support he would’ve hoped, but that they’d be good for the city in the long run.
“You know, there was a reason mama used to say, ‘boy, eat your vegetables,’” the mayor said during a media briefing in the Bronx. “At the end of the day, when you finally notice that you’re not going to have [homeless] encampments everywhere, that you’re not going to have people on your streets everywhere, you’re going to all of a sudden take this broccoli moment and understand that I made us a healthy city.”
Adams’ Tuesday announcement came at the opening of 80 “safe haven” beds across the street from the Bronx’s Lincoln Medical Center.
“Safe havens” are small-scale stabilization facilities with low barriers of entry for the homeless. They offer additional services for people suffering mental health and substance abuse challenges.
The beds opened Tuesday are part of the mayor’s Subway Safety Plan announced last month, and its commitment to make 500 new low-barrier beds available to the city’s street homeless. At the end of the week, the majority of the beds will be online, with additional beds opening in the coming weeks.
While the mayor’s plans to offer additional services to homeless New Yorkers has drawn criticism, advocates haven’t been as kind to other parts of the plan, particularly ongoing city sweeps clearing homeless encampments.
Jacquelyn Simone, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, pointed out that the low-barrier beds announced Tuesday were already planned before Adams took office.
She added that the sweep strategies can drive people further from the services they need, and go against current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance around the homeless.
“Without offering homeless New Yorkers a better place to go, these are cruel public relations tactics that do not address the real problem, nor will they reduce unsheltered homelessness on our streets and subways. Mayor Adams must immediately halt his aggressive sweeps campaign and instead focus on bringing more of these low-barrier beds online and offering them to all unsheltered New Yorkers.”
A spokesperson for the city Department of Social Services, which oversees the Department of Homeless Services, confirmed Tuesday that three planned shelters on Staten Island — in Tompkinsville, Stapleton and Grasmere — had yet to open, but said are planned to open later this year.