Following a murder at an East Harlem homeless shelter last week, the city plans to boost security at shelters and offer more help for mentally ill homeless New Yorkers.
Just before midnight on Jan. 27, 62-year-old Deven Black — a former city schoolteacher and resident at the Boulevard Homeless Shelter on Lexington Avenue — was found with his throat slit and head almost severed, according to the New York Daily News.
Police are now trying to track down 21-year-old Anthony White, who was Black’s roommate at the shelter and who lashed out after his iPhone was allegedly stolen, the Daily News reported.
On Saturday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that as part of his continuous effort to battle homelessness, the city will enhance security measures and add more mental health professionals at mental health shelters — in hopes of preventing another violent crime from happening.
“The murder of one of our shelter residents is shocking and disturbing, and we must address shelter security with urgency,” de Blasio said. “Our shelters should be safe environments where homeless people, with and without mental illness, can be treated with respect, become self-sufficient and move to permanent housing.”
Within the next days, the NYPD will be increasing security at the Boulevard Homeless Shelter — which was also the site of a fatal stabbing in 2013 — and will complete a system-wide security assessment of all 27 mental heath shelters throughout the city.
The city will also sent out new mental health teams to Department of Homelessness Services (DHS) intake centers to help evaluate service and shelter placement needs of residents.
In addition, DHS will deploy extra peace officers to all the mental health shelters for 24/7 surveillance. The agency will also provide with additional funding to strengthen mental health services at all DHS and contracted mental health shelters.
As part of the improvements, the city will also be implementing a new 24/7 communication process between NYC Health + Hospitals and DHS shelters to ensure better coordinated case management — including updates in status and treatment needs — and allow shelter operators to better support the residents.