According to the New York Times today, there is only one homeless man left in Times Square.
So where have the street homeless gone? With street homelessness definitively on the rise according to the City’s own numbers, it is surprising, if not shocking that there would only be one man sleeping rough in the streets of Times Square. A comment from the president of the Times Square Alliance suggests an explanation:
“Times Square has always been this signpost for whatever’s going on in New York City, for good or ill, and when there was a very heavy homeless population, it all contributed to a larger perception that New York City had lost control of the public realm,” said Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance.
Well surely the City’s administration doesn’t want to lose control of the public realm or create a public perception that NYC doesn’t care for its most vulnerable residents. The problem is that reality and public perception don’t always coincide. Even if there really is only one homeless man in Times Square, there are still 39,000 homeless individuals in shelter each night–an invisible population that is all too easily ignored.
Furthermore, where are the street homeless individuals of today? Have they moved to different areas of Manhattan? To different Boroughs? And are outreach services also targeting them as aggressively? All questions left unanswered.