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The ‘can tipper,’ homelessness, mental illness and NYC: Chirlane McCray reacts to upset residents, and the Daily News

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When it comes to people experiencing homelessness in New York City, I often ask: Are we more horrified by the disruptions posed by a small minority of individuals, or by the fact that in a city of great wealth and great resources, our streets are too often home to our fellow New Yorkers?

Last Sunday, this newspaper told the story of a man, apparently homeless, known on the Upper East Side as a “can tipper” because of his habit of knocking over garbage cans along Lexington Ave. The article said that he was also known for his confrontations with residents and merchants, who complained that the city was not doing enough to help.

The day after the article appeared, the man was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric assessment. While we cannot go into the details because of the individual’s privacy rights, we can say that city agencies will continue to connect him to the help he needs.

As a mental health advocate and a long-time New Yorker, I urge us all to remember — as was the case with the individual on the Upper East Side — that the journey from living on the streets to a real home can be long and difficult. And, too often, we conflate homelessness with mental illness or substance misuse or assume these individuals pose a threat to our........

© NY Daily News

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