Big Apple clears homeless living on pavements ahead of UNGA


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

NEW YORK, 19th Sept. New York City officials on Sunday cleared out homeless people living on the pavement from the area around Turtle Bay in preparation for the high-level UNGA session which began on Monday Sept 18 through September 26.

The NYC Government is keeping them out of view from the visiting heads of States, leaders and raising the security level.

According to various media reports, dozens of homeless people living under tarps, cardboard boxes, umbrellas and construction sheds for the past entire year along First Avenue, where the UN is located and Second Avenue and the side streets in the area, were out by Sunday evening.

The city officials who were tasked to clear them away were facing a chronic housing crisis compounded by mental health issues that overwhelm the city’s social services.

The streets along luxury hotels where about 150 presidents and prime ministers will be staying during the high-level debate will be cordoned off for security reasons but also spare the VVIPs a sight of the homeless problem in the world’s financial and media capital.

New York City periodically demolishes settlements set up by the city’s poor around the city but these removals are linked to the big UN event.

The New York Police Department will close an area of about 40 hectares that includes the UN under a virtual lockdown every year in September during the high-level meeting.

Only those with the UN pass are allowed to the area with several checkposts placed by UN security, NYPD and federal agents sporting an alphabet soup of agency insignias, before they reach their destination.

Residents and workers in buildings in these areas will have to go through cumbersome security.

The police helicopters will keep watch over the head and police and Coast Guard boats will keep an eagle eye on the East river.

The extra precaution was introduced after a bazooka was fired at the UN by anti-communist Cubans from the other bank of the river while Che Guevera, a Fidel Castro lieutenant, was speaking at the General Assembly in 1964.

It failed to hit the building.

The current sweep of the homeless has been carried out around the UN for security and cosmetic reasons.

City periodically demolishes encampments set up by the poor and homeless people.

The city is supposed to offer those displaced with proper housing.

NYC Comptroller Brad Landler carried out an audit that showed only three of those displaced received the promised hearing.

“So, 99.9 per cent of the folks that were forcibly removed in those sweeps are still homeless,” he told the National Public Radio network, a broadcaster that receives federal funding, in June.

According to reports, in 2022 more than 1,500 encampments, each containing several housing units, were demolished with police deployment.

The settlements referred to euphemistically as encampments are huts and tents set up in public or other vacant land or under bridges or overpasses by the poor and homeless.

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