NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It looks like a living room set up on a sidewalk.
The homeless encampment complete with a couch and pillows has been there since December, and some residents in Elmhurst, Queens say it’s becoming a health hazard, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported exclusively Thursday.
Pillows and blankets stacked up on a couch on the sidewalk. It’s a sad situation for the homeless couple who have lived on Pettit Avenue near Broadway and Elmhurst for the last few months, and for neighbors, who say they stay there 24/7.
“It’s been quite uncomfortable for the tenants and, of course, for me,” Elmhust resident Orlando Delgado said.
“They’re blocking the sidewalk,” resident Mohammed Rahman said.
“It’s heartbreaking. It makes us look more at ourselves more than it does at the other person,” one woman added.
At one point Thursday evening police from the 110th Precinct started packing up the encampment, but then put it back. That’s because the couple had a letter from the Department of Homeless Services.
It says in part that on April 1 — this Monday — city agencies, including DHS, will “complete a clean-up of the current location,” and that it may be illegal for them to stay there.
One of them spoke to CBS2.
“We don’t know where we’re going to go,” “Alyssa” said. “I’m just like a wreck. I cry myself to sleep every night,” “Alyssa” said.
“We’re homeless. We’re not bums, you know? We keep up with our hygiene,” she added.
Alyssa said she and her partner have been on the street for a year. They moved from the Link NYC charging station across the street to the spot under scaffolding in December.
“Everything that’s over here the community gave to us — the blankets, we have 50 blankets,” she said. “Even the couch they gave us.”
Alyssa said workers from the non-profit “Breaking Ground” have come by to offer help, but told them they can’t get them into a shelter until 2020.
“I would like for them to put us in a shelter together. That’s what I would like. I don’t want to be on the streets,” she said.
A DHS spokesperson said there is no wait list if the couple needs shelter, but for now they plan to stay on the couch, until they’re forced to move.
The agency told CBS2 outreach teams canvass the area three times a day, and have been encouraging the couple to accept services.