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Hackensack Residents Frustrated With Nearby Shelter

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Residents in one New Jersey community claim a homeless shelter nearby is causing problems in their community.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Friday, with its spotless rooms and neatly made bunk beds, the Bergen County Housing Health and Human Services Center has become a model for temporary shelters nationwide.

“The shelter is not what people expect. It is a beautiful building,” Jimmy Magnifico said.

Residents who live across from it, however, say the Hackensack shelter is attracting people from all over who dump trash and bottles on their front lawns.

“Drinking beer, and at night the guys smoking weed,” one resident told Sloan.

Another resident, who was afraid to show his face on camera, said his brand new SUV was scratched, Sloan reported.

The shelter’s director said the people who may be causing problems in the neighborhood are not even the people in her shelter.

“We work very closely with the police and other service providers. We also make sure that folks that are staying with us can be here all day long,” said center director Julia Orlando.

Orlando said she does that by setting a curfew and guests must have previous addresses in Bergen County.

“What we do is we make sure every single person who is at the shelter has an ID card. And if they’re in the community and they’re stopped by police or there is some kind of problem, they show their ID card,” Orlando explained.

One couple who is staying at the shelter with their daughter, said most of the people staying there are just down on their luck.

“We are human beings here and we just ran out of money and we had no place to go,” Magnifico said.

Magnifico told Sloan he’s a war veteran who worked three jobs until a heart attack put him out of work. Then his wife lost her job.

“Things got tough and we couldn’t afford it and everything. We bounced around here and there and finally there was no more money left,” she explained to Sloan.

The center allows non-county residents to stay for up to 72 hours. Neighbors said those are the people who appear to be causing the problems and they want police to crack down on them.

Police said they have patrols out in the neighborhood. They also said they have received complaints and are working with the center to come up with a compassionate solution.

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