Governor Cuomo Signs Executive Order to Protect Homeless from Winter Weather

Governor Cuomo signed an executive order Sunday requiring authorities to take homeless people off the streets when the temperature hits freezing. But the governor's order got a cool response from the de Blasio administration. NY1's Michael Scotto has the story.

This man says he's been sleeping on the streets for twenty years because, he claims, the shelter system has never worked for him.

"I went to the shelter system," he said. "I waited like two years for housing. It never happened. My stuff was getting stolen and I was getting in and out of fights because people were stealing my stuff.

But starting Tuesday, he may be required to go back.

That's because Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to force homeless New Yorkers into the shelter system if the temperature dips below freezing.

"Our state, which has a beautiful tradition of social progress and community, should not leave anyone outside in freezing temperatures," Cuomo said. "That's called basic humanity."

While the order applies to the entire state, it is clearly aimed at the city. It reads, in part:

"Certain parts of the State are facing a crisis of homelessness unprecedented in recent history."

For weeks, Cuomo has been critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio's efforts to deal with the thousands of people who are sleeping outside each night.

In an attempt to solve the problem, de Blasio has implemented a new program called Homestat.

But the de Blasio administration doesn't appear to be all that impressed with Cuomo's new order. It points out that the city's Code Blue policy already tries to get the homeless off the streets when the temperature goes below 32 degrees. 

de Blasio's press secretary adds:

"...to forcibly remove all homeless individuals in freezing weather, as the Governor has ordered, will require him to pass state law."

Homeless advocates agree it may illegal to force the homeless off the streets.

"It's not a crime to be homeless," said Joshua Goldfein of the Legal Aid Society. "It's not a crime to be on the street. Police resources are not an appropriate response to being on the street."

With temperatures expected to dip below freezing this week, the legality of Cuomo's move will likely be tested.

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