Is Times Square's recovery threatened by high crime and rampant homelessness?

Times Square has seen a 60% drop in tourism and a rise in crime during the pandemic. The changes have left many people wondering, can the 'crossroads of the world' make a comeback?

The Times Square Alliance, the agency that helps to improve and promote the tourist attraction, is crossing its fingers.

"A lot of this is the result of the pandemic and once it is over things will start to recover," said Tom Harris, Acting President of the Times Square Alliance, during an interview with FOX 5 NY morning program, 'Good Day NY.'

"I think you're going to see Times Square come back to life starting this summer," said Mayor Bill de Blasio during a briefing from City Hall Monday.

But with headline after headline about crime in the area from the shooting of a tourist, to the arrest of a man carrying a rifle with ammunition, the question remains, will Times Square recover or head back to the crime-ridden days of the 1980s?

"Anyone who says we are going back to the '80s or the '70s were not here in the '80s and the '70s," Harris said.

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Harris points to new efforts being taken to increase safety including a promise, he says, from the NYPD to add 80 police officers to the Midtown area in the next several weeks.

"Yes, there is an uptick in people who are displaced by congregant shelters on the streets. We don't sit back and complain. We are taking steps to make a better Times Square. We partnered with Breaking Ground, with the Center for Innovation, and with Fountain House, to interact with people on the street in need of assistance," said Harris. 

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Part of the plan includes a pilot program to engage the homeless, find out what brought them to that position, and look to find services for them.

Another component to the Alliance's improvement plan is adding a deputy mayor to coordinate all the city agencies that address issues in the public realm under one person.

"We are all in this together and we need to work together to get past this," said Harris.

More than 160,000 people were in Times Square Saturday night.

"What it's going to take is more people getting vaccinated, more people feeling confident and comfortable returning to the public space," said Harris.

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