NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Following complaints from Hell’s Kitchen business owners and residents, sanitation workers have thrown out much of a homeless woman’s possessions.
They said Sonia Gonzalez has taken over the neighborhood with her belongings, and called it a nuisance and a danger.
Gonzalez, who was featured on the cover of the New York Post, is a fixture in the neighborhood for better or for worse. CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported people can see Gonzalez in Hell’s Kitchen pushing her stunning and unfathomable collection of possessions — rusted and broken down carts filled with a wild array of bottles, clothes, blankets and food.
Gonzalez told CBS2 she does this to survive.
“Well, I got to do it. If you got to survive, you got to try to be normal, because if you don’t be normal, you don’t survive.”
Many shook their heads as the 60-year-old slowly moved her nearly two dozen shopping carts up 10th Avenue on Wednesday. Neighbors and residents told CBS2 that her possessions block traffic and prevent customers from entering their businesses.
“Somebody could scrape themself on this stuff and get infected,” one business owner said. “It’s an eyesore, and it’s disgusting.”
“They give them help, they come out and they go back to the same routine because they’re used to it,” a man named Francis said.
Pat Hughes, who owns three local bars, told CBS2 that it’s “upsetting when she parks her stuff in front of our place.”
“I ask her to move as gently as I can to avoid the explosion,” Hughes said.
Another man said Gonzalez needs help.
“Give her what she needs, medical attention, she definitely needs somebody to supervise her,” the man, named Rob, said.
A mayoral spokesperson said outreach teams have been working with Gonzalez since 2009 to try and get her into a shelter.
But Gonzalez said she doesn’t want to go to a shelter.
“No, no, no. I don’t like that,” Gonzalez told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa. “The mayor can take whatever he wants, not me.”
Gonzalez said she usually stays by a clinic on West 45th Street, which is where she was heading Wednesday.
City officials said they’re looking into the issues related to Gonzalez’s belongings, 1010 WINS reported.
“I want to highlight the new resources that the mayor committed to addressing street homeless, which has several aspects, including canvassing the city to identify people on their streets and connect them with services,” HRA Commissioner Steve Banks told CBS2.
Mayor Bill De Blasio has faced heavy criticism for how he’s handled the city’s homeless crisis. CBS2 has previously reported on the homeless living at LaGuardia Airport and even taking baths at the Columbus Circle fountain.
He has taken several steps to address the issue, including moving more than 22,000 New Yorkers from shelters to permanent housing and launching the HOME-STATE homelessness outreach program.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also said the state will step in to take a bigger role in combating the crisis.
There is no word on what happened to Gonzalez after her belongings were hauled away.