Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Queens Subway Station Cleaned Up Following Homeless Outreach

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TWC News: Queens Subway Station Cleaned Up Following Homeless Outreach
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A Queens subway station that became the last stop for many of the city's homeless is looking and smelling a lot better these days. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

It's still a popular hub for many of the city's homeless, but the number of people living at the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer station has dropped significantly in the last few months.

Queens activist Pamela Hazel contacted us in March after she and other riders said the issue had become overwhelming.

"It was just so filthy. It was unacceptable. It was a health hazard," Hazel said.

There were homeless people showering in the bathrooms and dozens more were on the platforms and the trains.

Back then, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it was expanding its outreach program and the police commissioner said he would be looking at homelessness in the transit system as part of his focus on quality-of-life issues.

A few weeks after our story aired, the MTA and the city conducted a massive outreach campaign which they say was already planned.

"It shouldn't be that problem with a lot of people out here, but Queens cleaned up. It's very nice. It's gotten a lot better. Channel 1 News I see you. Y'all hold it down," one rider said.

In March, the MTA said a person could not be ejected from the system unless they are violating the rules, but police and social workers try to convince homeless people to accept help.

We saw members of the city's outreach team on Wednesday trying to do just that. Many straphangers say they are happy the homeless are getting help, and the station is looking and smelling a lot cleaner.

"I actually feel really good about that. I think that they are really helping out people," one rider said.

The riders are not ones who are happy about the changes. We spoke with several transit workers, off camera, who told us they are too.

"You see some of the repeaters, but they come back and they're clean. You don't even recognize them and that's a big surprise. I must say, it worked. The system worked," one worker said.

Many now hope the homeless will continue to accept the help being offered here.

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