More homeless people camping out in subways may be ushered out of the underground and into shelters if an MTA proposal gets passed next week.
The MTA wants to target the end of subway lines where the homeless tend to congregate, including the 207 Street station on the A, the 242 Street stations on the No. 1 and the World Trade Center and Jamaica Center stops on the E. The lines don’t often go above ground, making it easier for homeless people to sleep inside the trains.
“It’s annoying,” said Michael Suarez, 35, a Bronx straphanger. “Sometimes they lay down across the seats and you can’t sit there.”
Across the city, the number of homeless fell by 30 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to an annual city study. But the decline wasn’t as pronounced for the subways, where 970 homeless people were counted in one day during an annual last year. Some researchers believe the population is much larger, as the survey doesn’t hit every station or the train cars.
“The best thing would be to help them find shelter, especially with this winter weather,” said Roberto Caminero, 43, a Bronx rider.
As part of a contract, the Bowery Residents’ Committee has promised to increase the number of case managers helping the “chronically homeless” abandon their underground homes, especially at Grand Central, Penn Station and other stops throughout Manhattan. Agency workers must provide counseling and help place the homeless into city housing and shelters.
“Each year outreach workers encounter new homeless clients,” the MTA stated. “It is, therefore, imperative that the program continue.”
The $1.5 million contract to begin next month is six percent cheaper than the previous one, the documents show.The MTA's has conducted outreach to the homeless since 1992, offering services to 32,000 people, the agency said.
Calls to Coalition for the Homeless advocacy group and the MTA for comment were not returned yesterday.
Nick Klopsis contributed to this story.