Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Subway Riders Say Number of Homeless People at Queens Station is Overwhelming

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TWC News: Subway Riders Say Number of Homeless People at Queens Station is Overwhelming
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It's not uncommon to see homeless people in the subways, especially during the winter, but at one station in Queens, straphangers say the numbers are overwhelming, and they want something done. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

While many straphangers are heading to work in the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer E train station at rush hour, many others have no place to be. They're homeless, spending their time on the subway cars and platforms, and in the bathrooms.

"People are bathing in there with buckets," said one rider. "It's horrible."

On this particular morning, every train we saw had homeless people on it. Others who ride the trains say it's affecting their quality of life, that they can't ride in some cars because of conditions there.

"Some mornings, we have to run from one train car to the next train car," said one rider. "And what is so bad is that they take up four and five cars."

"They lay out on the cars. They do their business. They have a high smell odor," said another. "It's very unhealthy."

We can show you what it looks like, but we can't show you what it smells like. We can only tell you that the stench is indescribable.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that its outreach program works with police and social workers to try to convince homeless people to accept help and plans to expand that in June. But they also said in a statement, "It's not illegal to be homeless. As long as a person is not violating the rules and regulations, they cannot be ejected from the system unless they are deemed a danger to themselves or others."

However, a subway cleaner who spoke to NY1 off camera said that he's witnessed a number of violations, including "a lot of the homeless defecating, urinating in the car on the seats, right there on the floor. They just drop their pants and just do what they got to do, and you know, you got to deal with that."

Police Commissioner William Bratton says he's planning to take a firsthand look, doing late-night tours of the system.

"Riding the rails and getting a sense that, you know, has the shelter-resistant population attempted to get back into any of those areas," he said on Tuesday.

Riders say if he's looking for a place to start, he can start here.

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