While many Subways have recently been temporarily closed in New York City due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this past Wednesday was the first time in its 115 year history that the NYC subway system was entirely shut down. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has decided to close all stations from approximately 1 a.m. through 5 a.m. every night in order to disinfect the trains.
MTA Chairman Patrick Foye stated that, “This is critical to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers.” However, critics have brought up the argument that these nightly cleanings will have extreme negative effects on the homeless population who rely on these subways for overnight shelter. Coalition for the Homeless policy director, Giselle Routhier, says that, “It’s actually extraordinarily counterproductive and harmful.” Others argue that the homeless taking advantage of the subway system is disrespectful to all the essential workers who rely on it for transportation.
The homeless have since been redirected to shelters throughout the city, but concerns have been brought up with regards to the spread of the virus in these types of environments. One possible solution that has been suggested is to temporarily relocate the homeless to various hotels as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a skyrocket in vacancies across the country. This would both provide shelter and help stop the spread of the virus for the homeless. However, this method is completely reliant on the individual hotels themselves and up to their discretion.