It just got harder being homeless in New York.
Following a report on CBS2, LaGuardia officials announced that the airport will conduct sweeps between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., kicking out anyone without “good reason” to be at the transportation hub.
Ticketed passengers will, of course, be exempt from the sweeps.
In a press statement, the Port Authority announced that it “will close the LaGuardia terminal to all but ticketed passengers during late night hours.” The move is a reversal of airport policy following news reports this year detailing the plight of those living at the airport.
In March, Carmen Keaton of Volunteers of America spoke with Bloomberg Business and explained the phenomenon of folks sleeping there in the terminal.
“It’s a public space,” Keaton told Bloomberg. “You have a place to bathe. You have a place to eat. You have a place to panhandle for money and a warm facility.” Keaton added that, unless people are creating a disturbance or nuisance, security would leave them alone.
That policy ends on Jan. 2.
One homeless man backed up Keaton’s account to CBS 2.
“You’re much safer here than in a shelter,” he explained. “Because with all this stuff here, I can get knifed. I can have bedbugs on me, lice. I’m 68 years old. I don’t need the hassle. I sit and watch CNN all day.”
The New York Post reported that “squatters” were “taking over” the airport.
“The bums say they stay in the airport because they feel safer there than they do in city shelters,” the Post lamented.
The Port Authority’s policy change came amid a crisis the city has yet to effectivelyaddress. Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major overhaul of the city’s homelessness response in order to quell the epidemic.
It’s an uphill battle: The Coalition for the Homeless stated that New York’s municipal shelter population, now just under 60,000, is “86 percent higher than it was ten years ago.”