NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As long as weather permits, you won’t be hard pressed to find people camped out for hours at LinkNYC kiosks, charging their phones and using the free Wi-Fi.
Today Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted kiosk campers are a problem and called the practice of practically living around them “unacceptable,” reports CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
For the past few weeks, all around the city, CBS2 documented people – many who appeared to be homeless – plugged into the kiosk’s charging ports for extended periods of time.
Many were clearly settling in for the long haul.
“Basically, since these came in, they basically are just used for people to live by and charge their phones,” said Aaron Bloch, a West Side resident. “I haven’t seen them used for basically anything else.”
CBS2 reached out to LinkNYC to see what adjustments could be made, but they didn’t respond.
We asked the mayor why the charging ports could not be disabled while allowing the Wi-Fi to still work?
“We have to keep perfecting this model,” de Blasio said. “The idea would be to make internet access more broadly available… But we found problems from the beginning that we need to address and we made changes. We’ll make more to get it right.”
The kiosks’ free web browsing feature was removed in 2016 when it became evident it was being used to watch inappropriate content.
The city says while it could disable the charging ports, it will not at this time because they’ve received very few complaints about people over-staying their welcome.
De Blasio says the city will monitor complaints and see if increased policing could cut also down on loitering at these stations.