Homeless Rights Activists Win Meeting with Top Admin Officials Following Sleep-Out Outside Gracie Mansion

Activists will demand the Mayor stop transfers, end street sweeps, and implement Intro 146

NEW YORK, NY (07/23/2021) (readMedia)-- Last night, homeless rights activists won a meeting with Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog, and First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan to elevate the demands of homeless New Yorkers. The commitment from the de Blasio administration came after activists staged a rally and sleep-out in front of Gracie Mansion in solidarity with #JulyHomelessRights Month. The sleep-out was a collaboration between Abolition Park and the All Street Journal, and as part of the event, activists set up couches, played board games, and sang songs while playing the piano in their makeshift living room. The Mayor's office asked them to leave by 1am, when the park closed, and in exchange offered a meeting during daylight hours after several rounds of negotiation. Activists are demanding that the Mayor stop transfers from hotels to congregate shelters, discontinue street sweep activity, and implement Intro 146 immediately as the Delta variant surges and COVID case rates rise.

"I'm not going to sleep outside – I've done that on and off since I was 10 years old and I'm grateful to the allies who are sleeping outside tonight so I don't have to," said former Lucerne resident and homeless rights activist Shams DaBaron, aka "Da Homeless Hero," who attended the action and requested a meeting with the Mayor. "But I should be inside of Gracie Mansion meeting with the Mayor and telling him about my experience living in congregate homeless shelters like those on Wards Island, where there are no services on site. I caught Covid living in a shelter, and almost died. Now is not the time to move people out of hotels and back into congregate shelters, where people sleep 30-50 and sometimes more to a room, where it is impossible to socially distance, and the majority of residents are not vaccinated. The Mayor could immediately implement Intro 146 right now, and open up a pathway to permanent housing for thousands of my homeless brothers and sisters. But instead, he wants to recklessly send them back to congregate death traps. Mr. Mayor, I asked you in September of 2020 to meet with me and I'm asking you again, will you meet with me?"