‘An epic failure’: NYC transit union boss blasts de Blasio for subway homeless crisis

A top transit union official on Thursday blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “epic failure” to address subway homelessness — saying the coronavirus pandemic had brought New York City’s inadequate response “into extreme clarity.”

“The homelessness crisis in New York City … is not the fault of the MTA. In fact, it’s a failure on the part of New York City and Mayor de Blasio,” Transport Workers Union international president John Samuelsen said during a panel hosted by Crain’s New York.

“It’s an epic failure that’s been brought into extreme clarity by the pandemic,” Samuelsen said of the underground shantytowns that took shape in the transit system when ridership plummeted due to the virus.

“This did not happen because of the pandemic, but the glaring societal failure of it became very obvious to everybody in the midst of the pandemic.”

As ridership dropped and more homeless moved in, frightened transit workers described seeing people openly defecating in subway cars and finding dead bodies.

Last week, the MTA instituted nightly shutdowns of the subway system in order to clear out the homeless and deep-clean stations and trains. The four-hour closures mark the first time the subway has not operated 24/7 in its nearly 116-year history.

Hizzoner claimed that officials were making “historic” gains in getting vagrants out of the system, but on Thursday, de Blasio conceded that just 103 of the 3,330 homeless people approached by cops in the first week of the shutdowns continue to live in shelters.

Many more opted to avoid sleeping at crowded city facilities like Manhattan Bellevue Men’s Shelter — where photos obtained by The Post show sleeping bodies strewn along the stairs and hallways.

Samuelsen said homeless seek shelter in the transit system because they cannot trust city-run services and shelters.

“Less trains, combined with homeless folks not wanting to use New York City homeless services, no trust in New York City social services, so they flocked into the trains and made worse an already very bad situation,” he said.

“The humane removal of the homeless from this subway system and bus system has to continue when this pandemic abates. It’s a must.”

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