NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Signs have appeared yet again documenting homelessness plaguing New York City, and police Commissioner Bill Bratton said part of the problem was that people were too eager to help.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, two photos surfaced this weekend. One showed a homeless woman camped out with her three cat and dog near the AMC Lowes Lincoln Square movie theater, at 68th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side. There were food bowls and even a litter box on the sidewalk.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello found and talked with the woman – Shaunyece Darling, 22.
“I went and got a motel room last week and came back two days ago,” she said.
Darling is living on the streets with cats Mollee, Storm and Mummy, and her pit bull puppy, Corazon.
“They will force you to give your pets up in order to get into a shelter, and me and my boyfriend care so much about our babies,” she said.
Darling said she and her boyfriend can make anywhere from $50 to $200 a day with their pet panhandling. They are saving money to move to California.
Meanwhile, another photo by Frank Curra showed a bride posing for wedding pictures on Fifth Avenue – with a homeless man lying on the sidewalk just steps away.
CBS2’s Kramer showed the photos to Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday.
The photos were just two more examples of why New Yorkers feel their quality of life is threatened – overrun by the homeless, Kramer reported.
Kramer asked de Blasio and Bratton about the woman with the pets who was seen on the sidewalk on Broadway Saturday night. She asked why nothing had been done about it.
De Blasio not only took the picture, but at one point, he even folded it up and put it in his breast pocket.
“When we see something that reaches that level of being a violation of law, NYPD moves in and acts,” de Blasio said.
Bratton admitted that police could have removed the woman if they had received a call about it. But he also seemed to put some of the blame for the homeless problem on big-hearted New Yorkers.
Kramer: “I just wonder if this kind of thing upsets you when you see it – I mean, there’s two dogs, there’s a cat, there’s kitty litter. Obviously, this is a person who needs help.”
Bratton: “My best advice to the citizens of New York City – if this is so upsetting to you, don’t give. One of the quickest ways to get rid of them is not to give to them, and so, New Yorkers who are complaining so much about it, well, one of the things they can do is stop contributing to it.”
George McDonald of the Doe Fund – a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless, was disappointed in Bratton’s answer.
“I’m shocked by that,” he said, “because you would think that he’d want people to help people who are desperate so that they didn’t commit crimes.”
McDonald was upset not only at the police commissioner’s comments, but also the photos depicting the homeless people on the sidewalks.
“It seems like this situation has gotten out of hand; that they’ve let it get beyond them,” McDonald said. “This was a manageable situation in New York City for the past 30 years – the past 25, anyway – and the citizens; the people who walk around on our streets know that.”
After the mayor’s news conference, two of his aides contacted CBS2 for the location of Darling her pets. They sent outreach services to the area, but Darling had moved elsewhere by Monday afternoon and City Hall sent back photos of an empty sidewalk.
But City Hall has encouraged New Yorkers to call 311 if they see a homeless individual on the street in need of assistance.