Several arrested after standoff over dismantling of NYC homeless encampment

The NYPD made multiple arrests Wednesday afternoon as activists protested the clearing of a Manhattan homeless encampment 

Police and members of the Sanitation Department and Homeless Services were on the scene to remove an encampment near Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.

The camp is being dismantled as part of Mayor Eric Adams' new crackdown on makeshift shelters across the five boroughs. 

So far, Mayor Adams' new initiative has cleared more than 240 homeless encampments in two weeks. Adams has argued that it is not only unsafe but cruel for people to live in makeshift shelters on the street. So far, authorities have already cleared more than 250 such encampments, more than half of them in Manhattan.

However, homeless advocates argue that the city's congregate shelters are unsafe and what the city's homeless population is in the most need of is long-term housing.

"I don't need a safe haven or a shelter. I need a home," said a homeless woman who identified her "professional name" as Synthia Vee. For hours, she and a handful of other homeless people resisted leaving their patch of Ninth Street, where they have been squatting for days.

Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app!  |  Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters

"I have something to say to Mayor Adams. Shelters — no. Safe havens — not quite. Apartments — that's the one," she said.

"He’s the new guy. We’ll see. He’s a Democrat, but he’s also a cop," she said.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he has said that he wants to clean up parts of the city that are "dirty" and "unsafe."

"I made a commitment that we were going to zero in on encampments so that people who are homeless can live with dignity," Adams said last week on CNN. "There's nothing dignified about living on the streets."

Advocates for the homeless have denounced the mayor’s move as heartless and were frustrated that Adams has taken action without releasing a comprehensive — and compassionate — plan to tackle the issues contributing to homelessness.

"I’m so disappointed that the mayor believes that tearing down these encampments without offering any long-term individualized action plan that includes safe havens, hotel beds, single room occupancy facilities and supportive housing," said Josiah Haken, the chief executive officer of City Relief, one of dozens of agencies providing support services to the unhoused.

"This approach will only increase distrust between the housed and the unhoused communities, and it will only push homeless New Yorkers into hiding instead of into housing," Haken said.

How to deal with New York City's homeless community has quickly become one of the primary concerns for Adams' fledgling administration. According to a recent survey by NYC Speaks, a majority of New Yorkers say reducing homelessness and increasing affordable housing would improve the city's quality of life. 

With the Associated Press.