Advocates react to shootings of two homeless men

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Advocates for homeless New Yorkers are reacting after two homeless men were shot Saturday morning, one of them fatally.

For Shams DaBaron, who experienced homelessness for many years, it brings back memories of the times he had to sleep on the streets.

“I know very well the danger of being out there, and one of my greatest fears has always been dying in the streets,” DaBaron said, who now works to help those without a home.

He said safety is a big concern when living on the streets and many opt to stay out of shelters because they feel they are dangerous as well.

“The experience is an inhumane experience,” he added. “It’s almost like voluntarily walking into a jail.”

The attacks happened in Lower Manhattan on Saturday and appear to be targeted, according to police.

The first attack, according to authorities, took place at around 4:30 a.m. and left a 38-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the arm. He is expected to survive. A second man died later in the day after being shot in the head and neck, police said.

Police are still looking to make an arrest.

Advocates say there needs to be more housing available to homeless people that is not in the form of mass shelters.

“We know that if people are offered safe, private, dignified accommodations they will come inside, they will be safe. They will accept services, so the city knows what they need to do and now they need to implement it with urgency,” said Corrine Low, executive director of the Open Hearts Initiative.

Jacquelyn Simone, the policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said many people without a home have been forced onto the streets after Mayor Eric Adams announced efforts to remove homeless people from trains and subway stations.

“We need to instead of just pushing people from one place to another, and potentially shoving them away from services and breaking those connections, we need to instead think of what types of options would help people move indoors,” Simone said.

The advocates believe more safe havens are needed to help homeless New Yorkers.

Advocates held an emergency vigil for homeless New Yorkers in response to the shootings on Sunday at the corner of Lafayette and Howard Street.

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