BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Two days after four homeless men were bludgeoned to death as they slept on Chinatown streets, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Oct. 7 a series of new homeless outreach initiatives in the Manhattan neighborhood.
“What happened over the weekend shakes the conscience of who we are as New Yorkers,” said de Blasio in a statement. “We are sending experts to the neighborhood to provide support during this difficult time, and will continue to assess how to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future.”
Officers found the men after responding to a 911 call about an assault in the area early on Oct. 5. Police arrested 24-year-old Randy Rodriguez Santos, also homeless, for allegedly beating the four men to death with a metal pipe.
Santos has been charged with attempted murder along with unlawful possession of marijuana.
As part of the new initiative, the city has dispatched mental health outreach teams through the Department of Health and Thrive. HOME-STAT teams will engage with those experiencing homelessness and offer services and assistance.
The support teams in the area are also meant to provide emotional support for community members and connect people to mental health and others supportive social services, according to the release.
The teams have access to licensed clinicians, psychiatrists and substance use resources such as naloxone, detox centers and rehabilitation centers.
According to a press release, the mental health support teams will be on-site at “community locations” throughout the week. NYPD has sent additional officers to patrol the neighborhood as well.
“Saturday’s terrible act of senseless violence has shocked Chinatown and forced a moral reckoning across our city,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “As we mourn the loss of four members of our community, we must embrace the moral duty we have to our fellow New Yorkers. Over the coming weeks, I will work closely with Mayor de Blasio to coordinate homeless outreach efforts, provide more social services, and enhance security measures.”
“Community Board 3 is very glad to hear that mental health outreach teams, additional services, and assessment for risk along with on-going case management will be enhanced in Chinatown,” said Manhattan Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer. “Chinatown is devastated by these horrific murders and needs this support along with all possible measures to protect the most vulnerable. Community Board 3 is very appreciative of this immediate and robust response. We look forward to working with the outreach teams and the agencies in any way possible to safeguard our most vulnerable residents and support Chinatown residents.”