D.A. Bragg Kicks Off Mental Health Initiative In New York Daily News Op-Ed

February 1, 2024

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today wrote an op-ed in the New York Daily News about the official launch of a proactive approach to address the City’s mental health crisis as the Office’s Neighborhood Navigators hit the streets for the first time. D.A. Bragg also called on all stakeholders, from law enforcement to elected officials and more, to come together and solve this issue, and offered immediate action-items.

D.A. Bragg writes that “As New Yorkers, we’re all too familiar with images of our neighbors in need of care and support. We may see them asking for money or food, sleeping on park benches or subway cars, or walking in cold weather without a shirt or shoes. These individuals need and deserve help. And starting today, our Neighborhood Navigators will hit the streets of Manhattan to offer that help.”

With an unprecedented $6 million investment from the D.A.’s Office, Neighborhood Navigators, who have experienced homelessness, substance use disorders, or mental health issues themselves, “will work to build trusting relationships with unhoused individuals who spend significant time on the street.”

The ultimate goal is to voluntarily connect these individuals with long-term services, such as housing and medical care.

D.A. Bragg writes that without proactive, preventative help, “this population will continue to be subjected to victimization, and cycle through our court system and jails again and again.”

While this program, along with our $3 million investment in Court-Based Navigators, is a “much-needed solution which will provide some relief,” D.A. Bragg explains that it is “not a permanent fix that can solve the larger problem.”

He calls for a comprehensive plan to address the mental health crisis that includes more supportive housing and expanded capacity of problem-solving courts, among other solutions.

He concludes, “We hope this program provides a model that can be replicated in the years to come as part of a broader, comprehensive, mental health plan to adequately serve the needs of all New Yorkers. It is the right thing to do and it will make all of us safer.”

Read the full op-ed here.