A group of unhoused New Yorkers are camping out near City Hall to call attention to the city’s treatment of the homeless.
Johnny Grima who previously was arrested for making a stand against Adams’ sweeps in the East Village is leading a new charge for homeless rights. The homeless rights advocate, who was most recently found sleeping rough on the street beside Tompkins Square Park, is leading a band of undomiciled men and women in a camp out and is asking for all of the city’s homeless to join him.
“We came out here to City Hall to start occupying the space and bring other homeless people over here. The message is very simple: Move homeless people into the empty apartments and stop evicting people into homelessness,” Grima told amNewYork Metro.
Grima believes that landlords are in violation of the law, stating that 42,000 out 450,000 apartments should be made available for low-income housing, but so far, Grima states that the aforementioned spaces have been vacant for over a year.
If these apartments were made available to homeless individuals, Grima feels that it would solve the homeless crisis by emptying the shelters and streets.
“We really want to put out a call to action to all our homeless people across the city, especially the street homeless that aren’t even in the shelter to start coming over here,” Grima said.
The group has stocked up on food and water and set up banners. They are also calling upon New Yorkers both housed and unhoused to offer support to their cause. They are likewise requesting churches to stop by and aid in the supply and coordination of food giveaways.
Steven Marrerow, a fellow unhoused individual, and Ronnie Standridge joined Grima in the occupation, each one planning to stay overnight. Standridge shared that he was in a hotel-shelter conversion with benefits and services but learned that his father was dying in Georgia and decided to stay with him for a few months. Upon his return, Standridge claimed he lost his room and was left to the streets.
The group is also calling for an end to Mayor Adams’ homeless encampment sweeps, believing they are inhumane. While Grima is asking for more unhoused individuals to join him, he also stresses that those who are in a shelter or safe haven should only join the cause during the day since he says he does not want them to lose their beds. Still, for those living out on the street he urges them to stop by the entrance to the Chambers Street subway station to push for an end to homelessness.
amNewYork Metro reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment and is awaiting a response.