UNION CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A day after she reported on a homeless encampment above Hoboken, CBS2’s Meg Baker pushed for answers from local authorities about what should be done about it.
As Baker first reported Wednesday, the encampment in the hills high above Hoboken bridges Jersey City and Union City. Nearly 50 homeless people are living there in tents and shanties made of wood, mattresses and tree branches.
Hudson County residents have complained about the heaps of trash falling down the hill, visible from below.
“The trash is an eyesore,” said Hoboken resident Chris Spingle.
“The view, it’s dirty,” added Molly Peters, of Hoboken. “Sometimes, it can get loud and kind of rowdy, I think in the summer when the population sort of swells.”
So who’s responsible to clean this up and quiet it down?
Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise said it’s not a county issue. The county only got involved in the past when fire broke out, possibly harming county bridges.
He said many of the homeless just arrived at the encampment from other countries.
“We have services available to us if they would sign up,” DeGise said. “I don’t know whether it’s an immigration problem, but they resist.”
“When you come to a place where you don’t have family at all, you have to find a place to live,” Orestes Lopez, who is homeless, told Baker. “So I guess that’s why they go there.”
The county executive said fences were added a number of years ago, but they have not stopped people from reaching the area.
DeGise said it is not legal for the homeless to set up camp in a public park, but admitted there has not been an “active movement to roust them and get them out of there.”
In response to CBS2’s coverage, DeGise said he will contact the mayor of Union City and work together to clean up the trash.
Baker tried to speak to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on camera, but she declined, saying it’s Union City’s problem, even though some of the tent city residents go to Hoboken shelters for food and showers.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop avoided questions about the shantytown at an event Thursday.
Hudson County is one of New Jersey’s poorest counties.