1st 'Safe Haven' facility opens to mixed criticism of Mayor Adams' approach to homelessness

THE BRONX (WABC) -- The Morris Avenue Safe Haven opened in the Bronx on Tuesday as part of Mayor Eric Adams' goal to address the homeless crisis.

Each client will get their own bed, toiletries, and locker.

There is a laundry room, clean showers, and a dining room for free meals and snacks.

And there is a federally qualified health care center on site for medical, psychiatric, addiction and social services.



Officials claim this facility is a new approach to getting people off the streets.

Instead of just warehousing the vulnerable in shelters, this provides care with dignity.

"You can't get this on the A train," Adams said. "You can't get this sleeping in Times Square. You can't get this in a cardboard box. You don't deserve that. You deserve this."

At the ribbon cutting, the mayor proudly unveiled the brand new, 80 bed facility, located across the street from Lincoln Hospital.

There are future plans are to open 500 such beds across the city.

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But the second part of Adams policy- dismantling homeless encampments, has come under fire.

The Coalition for the Homeless agrees the increase in shelter beds is a good thing, but calls the encampment sweeps "harmful."

"These low-barrier beds were already in the pipeline prior to this administration, and thousands more must be brought online as quickly as possible to begin to meet the need," Policy Director Jacquelyn Simone said. "But we repeat that policing and sweeps are harmful, counterproductive strategies that can actually push unsheltered homeless people further away from services, and clearing encampments is in direct violation of CDC guidance. Without offering homeless New Yorkers a better place to go, these are cruel public relations tactics that do not address the real problem, nor will they reduce unsheltered homelessness on our streets and subways. Mayor Adams must immediately halt his aggressive sweeps campaign and instead focus on bringing more of these low-barrier beds online and offering them to all unsheltered New Yorkers."

Still the city is moving forward with dismantling at least 150 encampments. Those living in the encampments are given 24 hour notice before they are destroyed.

The city is also hoping mental treatment for this population will also reduce the violence that's been raging in the city.

"Moving into housing is the goal, but to get somebody stabilized psychiatrically is a win." said Simone Thompson with Care for the Homeless.

For critics of the homeless policy, the Mayor likened this to eating your broccoli.

"It doesn't taste good, but in the long run there's a reason Mommy said, boy eat your vegetables," Adams said.

This Safe Haven location could receive its first client as early as this week. The goal is not to keep them at the facility forever, but to get them on their feet so they can be placed in permanent housing.

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