Lawsuit: Homeless attorneys say New York Metropolis subway coronavirus guidelines are essentially the most susceptible
New York City homeless attorneys have filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, claiming the agency’s new coronavirus rules are wrongly targeting people seeking refuge on the subway because they have nowhere else to go.
According to the New York Times, the city recently decided that no one would be allowed to stay in a subway station for more than an hour or after local trains were shut down.
In addition, New Yorkers are now banned from bringing carts more than 30 inches long or wide into stations or trains.
While these rules were first introduced in April – then as a temporary measure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus – they were introduced permanently in September.
Lawyers and lawyers for the homeless note that the rules seem almost tailored to the homeless, who often sleep in subway tunnels or are spread out over seats on night trains. With no personal storage facilities, many use wheelbarrows to store the few belongings they own.
Barry Simon, a homeless person who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said New York City should not view its homeless population as a people to be discarded. Instead, Simon suggested that the city and its MTA find new, more effective ways to keep people off the streets and subway stations.
“Homelessness is not a problem, it’s a responsibility, and the MTA shares that responsibility,” said Simon. “When we stop seeing or confusing responsibility for a problem, we can better do it right.”
Homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk; Image courtesy of Mihály Köles via Unsplash, www.unsplash.com
Sarah Feinberg, interim president of NYC Transit – the MTA agency responsible for subway operations – told FOX5 that no matter how “devastating” homelessness may be, it is not the responsibility of the transportation authorities to protect their facilities .
“Nobody should get on the subway system because that is the only way they can escape the elements or sit on a bench for an hour or two or take a nap,” Feinberg said.
“We have to do better as a city,” said Feinberg. “But when it comes to the subway system, we are constantly moving vital workers and therefore cannot be a last resort protection.”
Abby Collins, a spokeswoman for the MTA, echoed Feinberg’s general opinion in a statement to the New York Daily News.
“We are looking into the lawsuit that we first heard about in the press,” said Collins. “We will vigorously defend in court the rules put in place to protect the health and safety of customers and employees amid a global pandemic.”
The New York Times notes that many homeless people have actively avoided barrack-style shelters since the pandemic began, precisely because they are afraid of contracting coronavirus in such crowded environments.
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