Jordan Neely was a young Black man who tragically lost his life earlier this week after enduring years of homelessness and hunger. His actions were a cry for help, yet he was viewed as a threat by his fellow New Yorkers. This indifference towards a struggling human in an acute housing and mental health crisis is a direct result of the longstanding racialized criminalization of Black men and the stigmatization of people who are homeless and/or have mental health diagnoses.
It is time for Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul to recognize the urgency of this issue and take action. Homeless people are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our community members, and they deserve care and compassion.
We must end the hyper-criminalization of homeless New Yorkers and those with mental health struggles. The Mayor should expand access to CityFHEPS vouchers, fund the enforcement against source of income discrimination at the City Commission on Human Rights, and invest in critical city agencies like the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services.
The Governor must work with the legislature to pass the Housing Access Voucher Program and Good Cause Eviction before the end of the legislative session. These critical investments will keep people in their homes and help homeless New Yorkers access housing and exit shelter, so that they can begin to get the care and stability they deserve.
It is time for our elected officials to listen to the voices of homeless people, advocates, and allies who have been fighting for years to end homelessness and provide solutions for our neighbors who are unhoused and struggling. The time for action is now – lives are at stake.