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NYC Homeless Hospitalization Policy That Caught Backlash Has Helped People Get Housed

 New York City’s   controversial new policy that forces homeless people with serious mental issues to go to the hospital has yielded some po...

 New York City’s controversial new policy that forces homeless people with serious mental issues to go to the hospital has yielded some positive results, helping some of them to move into permanent housing.

Most of the nine people who were involuntarily hospitalized by one Bronx social-service agency have either moved into permanent housing or are on track to do so.

The agency, BronxWorks, has a city contract for homeless outreach.

One man, Mazou Mounkaila, was arrested and hospitalized on the coldest night of the winter as he was sleeping under an overpass in the Bronx, The New York Times reported.

Mounkaila, 59, is a former warehouse manager from the West African nation of Niger who had been homeless for about 10 years. After his arrest, he spent 104 days at a Bronx hospital getting treatment for schizophrenia. He started taking medication, showering, and eating regular meals, and he reconnected with his daughter and younger brother.

In May, he moved into a BronxWorks shelter apartment. BronxWorks is now working on finding him housing.

“These are severely mentally ill people we’ve been chasing after for years,” BronxWorks’s assistant executive director Scott Auwarter said. “Something’s changed out there. It’s working.”

Another man in his 60s, a former doctor, had reportedly been homeless for 15 years and suffered from paranoid delusions before he was hospitalized under the new policy. Now he is at a nursing home and his health has improved so much that he is like “another person,” according to his brother.


Mounkaila and five other people BronxWorks hospitalized were on a city list known as the “Top 50,” a list of homeless people with serious problems who the city believes are very resistant to getting help.

Also on the Top 50 list was Jordan Neely, who died in May when ex-Marine Daniel Penny put him in a chokehold after Neely allegedly threatened subway riders.

Mayor Eric Adams announced the policy back in November, which involves involuntary hospitalization of people in “psychiatric crisis.”

Adams said at the time that the policy addresses “a crisis we see all around us,” namely, homeless people with serious, untreated mental illness who live on New York’s streets and in the subways.

“The man standing all day on the street across from the building he was evicted from 25 years ago waiting to be let in; the shadow boxer on the street corner in Midtown, mumbling to himself as he jabs at an invisible adversary; the unresponsive man unable to get off the train at the end of the line without assistance from our mobile crisis team: These New Yorkers and hundreds of others like them are in urgent need of treatment and often refuse it when offered,” the mayor said in November.

Some progressive Democrats criticized Adams for the proactive approach when he announced the policy.

“Just because someone smells, because they haven’t had a shower for weeks, because they’re mumbling, because their clothes are disheveled, that doesn’t mean they’re a danger to themselves or others,” said Norman Siegel, former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union and co-founder of a volunteer outreach program, the Street Homeless Advocacy Project.

“And they’re going to have the cops, of all people, make those decisions?” Siegel said.

Despite the criticism, Adams has said he plans to “continue to push” to get mentally ill New Yorkers the help they need and away from living on the train.

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