NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – All indications are the homeless population in New York City is soaring, 1010 WINS reported.

As of last week, the 311 system fielded more than 20,000 calls related to the homeless. That’s up from more than 12,000 two years ago.

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The number started to go up when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, 1010 WINS reported.

De Blasio said he’s concerned about it, but blames the rise on a combination of factors, including more media attention, 1010 WINS reported.

Councilwoman Annabel Palma of the Bronx reportedly disagrees.

Palma told the New York Post homelessness is a real issue the administration is struggling to deal with.

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“There’s many homeless people, it’s very sad,” a woman in Union Square told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “I’ve been seeing it the past six months. I think it has gotten worse.”

So why not stay in shelters?

“A shelter? They stole my stuff, my passport, all my papers, twice, and that’s it,” a homeless man in Union Square explained to Montone.

“People get beat up just going to sleep there,” another homeless man told Montone. “Everything gets stolen, more than on the street.”

Synthetic marijuana is also a problem, the man said.

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“They walk around smoking that K2 stuff. You don’t know when people are going to space out on you or go ballistic,” he said.