Response to Petition on Homelessness

03/30/2017

MAR 30, 2017 — Thank you for reaching out with your concerns about a mentally ill woman on the Upper East Side. We share your compassion for her well-being and concern for the safety of those around her, and we want to advise you of our best options here.

As many of you have noted in your comments, she is suffering from a mental illness, and as a City and a community, we must do everything we can to get her the help that she needs. As you likely know, mental illness in itself is not a crime, but physical assault of any kind, including spitting on someone, is -- and it will not be tolerated.

We have been in constant consultation with the NYPD and Steven Banks, Mayor de Blasio’s Commissioner at the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), working with them to address this matter. The NYPD’s 19th Precinct and the DHS have offered services to the woman cited in this petition, but she has declined help. While they do not believe that she can be involuntarily committed to treatment, they do urge continued follow up from the community based on specific experiences as follows:

If you see someone who you believe needs non-emergency assistance, please call 311 or use the 311 website or app to request “homeless outreach” so that the city can send someone to offer that person mental health or substance abuse support, three meals a day, shelter, rental assistance, and even job training. 

If someone is following you, makes you feel unsafe or appears to be committing a crime, spits on you or someone else, threatens you individually with specific harm, chases you under threat of violence or any other criminal act, please call get to a safe place and call 911.

It is critical to report these events to the NYPD so that the city can use additional tools to help keep her from harming herself or anyone in our community. With the support of all our offices, Council Member Kallos has personally joined his constituent who originated the petition to meet with the NYPD’s 19th Precinct.

To address the broader issues of homelessness and hunger in our community head on, our offices, in partnership with faith-based institutions, non-profit providers, and city agencies, launched the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) in February 2016. ETHOS has recently partnered with New York Presbyterian to provide medical services to the homeless and hungry at weekly soup kitchens with mental health support available from Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter. If you would like to get more involved, please contact our offices to learn about volunteer trainings and opportunities.

We hope you will continue to contact our offices to let us know what you are experiencing on an ongoing basis.

Thank you again for your concern and we are determined to reach a resolution to this situation. Change.org does not share your contact information with us directly, so we cannot reply individually. Please consider emailing us directly at bkallosatbenkallos [dot] comgarodnickatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov, or lkruegeratnysenate [dot] gov.

Sincerely,
Council Member Ben Kallos
Council Member Dan Garodnick
State Senator Liz Krueger