NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Despite campaign promises the homelessness problem in New York City appears to have gotten worse under the watch of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the growing problem has forced the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Amtrak to fork out millions of dollars to get the homeless out of transit hubs – but with little success.READ MORE: Storm Watch: Officials Hoping To Avoid Repeat Of Ida With Preparations For Nor'easter
Terry LaRocca is not your typical homeless person. She spends a lot of time at the Long Island Rail Road Atlantic Avenue terminal in Brooklyn, but that is because she found an electrical outlet to plug in her smartphone.
“It would be tacky to go into Starbucks, because I’m broke today,” LaRocca said.
LaRocca is disabled. She will not go to shelters, finding them to be too scary or unable to accommodate her disability.
She said she planned to spend the night outside Tuesday night, insisting that it was “not that cold yet.” As to when it does get cold, LaRocca said, “I will address that when it gets here.”
LaRocca and people like her are the reason why the MTA has been spending nearly $5 million to reach out to the homeless, who have taken increasingly to sleeping in transit hubs as it gets colder.
CBS2 cameras caught homeless people sleeping in Penn Station Tuesday morning, near the LIRR gates. An MTA police officer beat on the wall with his night stick to wake them up.READ MORE: NYPD: Man Shot Inside Union Square Subway Station
But he was not very successful. Most of the homeless people stayed where they were.
An MTA spokesman insisted the officers confronting the homeless followed protocol.
“Officers will seek to get people up off the floor, and they will provide information about shelters, but usually the offers are refused,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement.
All this came as recently-released statistics showed the number of people entering shelters has increased under Mayor de Blasio, and they are staying longer. It angers advocates.
“All of a sudden, it’s everybody else’s fault except this mayor’s. When is he going to accept responsibility?” said George McDonald of The Doe Fund, who ran as a Republican for mayor in 2013. “You can’t deny what New Yorkers see on the streets every day with their eyes open. There are many, many, many more hopeless people.”
In all the figures released recently, one in particular jumps out, Kramer reported. The NYPD said for the first nine months of 2015, more than 3,600 people rejected officers’ attempts to bring them to city shelters.MORE NEWS: 'Squid Game' Halloween Costumes Banned By New York School District Due To Netflix Hit's 'Violent Message'
That is more than double the number for the same period last year.