NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — From sleeping on the ground to stealing, some business owners in Grand Central Terminal say the homeless population is taking over and they simply can’t take it anymore.

Inside the world-class transit hub adorned with grand chandeliers, you’ll find men and women sleeping at tables, hunched over on benches, using drinking fountains to bathe and walking barefoot feet away from where about two dozen business owners are trying to make a living selling food.

“At 5:30 in the afternoon, it becomes a homeless shelter,” business owner Joe Germanotta said.

Germanotta owns Art Bird & Whiskey Bar, one of the restaurants in the lower-level dining concourse of Grand Central Terminal. He says the overwhelming homeless problem has him on the brink of closing. He’s already cut staff.

“What’s the worst thing you’ve seen?” CBS2’s Jessica Layton asked.

“People sitting in chairs with their… exposed,” Germanotta said. “Sometimes they can be violent … One guy, I think it was yesterday, he was peeing himself.”

RELATED STORY: City Council Unveils Its Comprehensive Homeless Plan

A worker at a Chinese-American take-out recently opened the shop to find a man passed out on their floor, and they have surveillance video of someone breaking in overnight and stealing tablets.

“The customers are afraid to come in to buy. You know, the customers don’t want to eat because there’s no space for seating,” restaurant manager Tamarsha Sandiford said.

“People are scared to come and sit here and eat with their families,” restaurant manager Jimmy Ponce said.

With thousands of commuters passing through each day, it’s not cheap to be in business.

Germanotta says he pays about $50,000 a month to the MTA.

Businesses that blame the problem for a loss in revenue say they’ve brought their complaints to the MTA multiple times but it’s falling on deaf ears.

The MTA and Metro-North Railroad see things differently.

“It’s a very attractive place to do business and we’ve had no trouble filling the leases in the dining concourse,” said Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro-North Railroad.

“But would you say that homeless folks bathing, harassing customers for money and stealing from restaurants, that can’t be good for business,” Layton said.

“Well, you know, in terms of the types of conduct that we’re seeing here on the dining concourse, crimes are actually relatively low,” Rinaldi said. “But I’m not going to pretend that homelessness is not a problem.”

RELATED STORY: Mayor De Blasio Unveils ‘Outreach NYC’ Program To Address Homelessness

“It’s all across the city. The problem of homeless people who are on the street is as bad as I have ever seen it,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Still, by and large, business owners want to see more police patrolling the terminal and more help offered to the homeless so they don’t have to take up residence there.

“We can check on them. We can check on their welfare and the police and Metro-North staff do that every single day, but we can’t make them accept services,” Rinaldi said. “It all comes back to the lack of adequate housing. I mean, this is a place where the city of New York needs to step up.”

In response to that, the city Department of Homeless Services told CBS2 it is working to address getting New Yorkers off the streets and into housing, and as the agency does that, they are welcoming the help from all their state partners in what they are calling a statewide issue.

Comments (53)
  1. Rob Lee says:

    They aren’t taking over!
    They took over the day de Blasio took office.

  2. Kevin Reynolds says:

    I don’t know if there are any solutions to problems like this.

  3. Wild Bill says:

    It’s still less of a toilet than San Francisco.

  4. DS says:

    Just one more reason why my last visit to NYC as a tourist will remain as my last visit. I am surprised that any business that does not have to be in New York City is still there.

  5. Gringo Bandit says:

    Maybe Bloomberg can go and give them “Big Gulps”?

  6. David Dinkins reincarnated as Bill D Blasio. This is what it means to have a communist mayor of NYC.

  7. gregory munson says:

    “It’s all across the city. The problem of homeless people who are on the street is as bad as I have ever seen it,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

    Said the man who lives in a mansion in Albany and has armed guards protecting him from any exposure to the same. As far as I can see, New Yorkers deserve every miserable second of this disgraceful environment until they wake up and bring back a Republican mayor and governor.

    Not going to happen any time soon of course, so Florida, Carolinas and New Hampshire will continue to grow and prosper while NY continues to lose population.

    1. BonHagar says:

      Most politicians never suffer the results of the policies they righteously inflict upon others.

  8. philip says:

    it is also the fault of comrade, mayor debozio, and his idiotic, stupid luddite policies

  9. MAR 100 says:

    The only thing that will stop this is when storefronts remain vacant and the city feels the revenue shortfall.

  10. cyeager1961 says:

    A sanctuary City with Bloombergs amnesty with Marijuana legalization and you have the bottom drop out of the Labor market and mental disease from drug addiction. Congrats to New York they proved the same factors that California neglects to observe. A homeless vector.

  11. MekongDelta69 says:

    There used to be mental institutions but Rockefeller closed them down 40-50 years.
    They need to be reopened.

  12. Dan H says:

    MTA, we can get anyone here, so tough luck buddy

  13. Oliver W Homey says:

    let them have it, they get whatever they want anyways, this just speeds up the process. Maybe meals can be catered to them while they are down there also. They only need to come up where the working people are to urinate and defecate. Kind of like the streets of San Francisco but this is underground.

  14. Jeff Mason says:

    I first visited New York in the late 1990’s when Rudy was mayor and it was a great town. I was in back for business several years ago (when Bloomburg was mayor) and it was still great – clean, safe and fun. Now it’s become a lawless cesspool. Thanks DeBlasio.

  15. Gary's opinion says:

    New York, New York, a wonderful town, the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down, and people ride in a hole in the ground. New York, New York, it’s a wonderful townnnn!
    Leonard Bernstein is rolling over in his grave!

  16. Bob Myer says:

    Love the MTA WITCH…”We can get anyone to open a business and work 100 hour weeks and pay us 50K a month. You don’t like it pound sand!” Hang the bureaucrats!

  17. Tom Roberts says:

    When you have 20 to 30 million illegals in your city, waving their feelers out of every available housing unit this is what happens. If you see one there are really ten million hidden in the walls.

  18. Its a liberal utopia. All hail Bill DeBlasio!!

    Actually, I spent a lot of time in NY in the late 80s. I once saw a guy in Grand Central kick a hole in a wall, pull down his pants, stick his butt through the hole and crap in the hole.

    Welcome Home!!!

  19. David from San Diego says:

    Sounds just like California … and Oregon … and Seattle … and Denver. We need to amend the Constitution to allow law enforcement to remove VAGRANTS from public spaces, and lodge them on work farms until they are willing and able to work for a living (like the rest of us).

    1. jmcadams1945 says:

      You would not have to change the Constitution to get them out of public spaces. Just enforce laws that used to be enforced, and still are lots of places.

  20. This is what you get when you elect democrats… so if you’re a liberal democrat, STFU.

  21. Alex says:

    Same story in Penn Station. It smells like a locker room, there are so many homeless and the scream, charge at people curse and yell right at children. It’s disgusting! “We can check on their welfare and the police and Metro-North staff do that every single day, but we can’t make them accept services.” Why the heck not?!?! It’s a quality of life issue. If they don’t have a legitimate reason to be in these stations, if they aren’t patronizing a business or waiting for a train, they should be made to leave. The business owners pay a fortune to be there. You think Giuliani or Bloomberg would have stood for this!?!?!

  22. Buffalo Mike says:

    New York bus terminal is in the same situation. It stinks!!!

  23. JE says:

    “Rinaldi said. “It all comes back to the lack of adequate housing”

    For the individuals described in this article the above is not a given. Those with mental health issues are typically not interested in in the constraints required by “housing”.

    1. Alex says:

      Bingo! The guy literally just said they try to offer them services but they refuse. These are not normal people on hard times. They are drug addicts and the mentally disturbed. Take them in front of a judge, get them involuntarily committed. You’ll be helping them and the city at the same time.

  24. Kurt Smith says:

    Since you New Yorkers just can’t seem to stop voting for dimms, no matter how bad things get, you’d better just get use to this.

  25. Jose Cardenas says:

    Isnt he also Lady Gaga’s father?

  26. matismf says:

    Si se puede?

    Or Oooga Booga???

  27. Vote Bloomberg and you’ll get this in every town and city in the US.

  28. Commuter says:

    Metro North commuter…I’ve been noticing it sliding back towards the dark days of 1970s-80s, and the same could be said for lots of other places in the city. Took a huge turn to negative town a couple years ago when De Blasio stopped the cops from enforcing vagrancy, letting a handful of crazy homeless people ruin it for the millions wanting to use the place. Giuliani cleaned it up, De Blasio is destroying it.

  29. Bill says:

    Crazy people have always been part of the human race. In prehistoric and the middle ages, the worst of them would be thrown out of the tribe or village to fend for themselves or die. If they tried to return they would be beaten or killed. So we can’t ignore the problem, it has to be dealt with, and there aren’t any easy solutions. We’re reaching the limits of peoples tolerance and the government is useless.

    1. JE says:

      As a society we need to re-think the idea of forced institutionalization. Allowing the mentally ill to live in filth and squalor is not showing them compassion.

  30. NickSJ says:

    The problem is obvious. Vagrancy laws are no longer enforced. Before that, there were few homeless people. The more services provided to the “homeless” the more homeless there will be. As usual, leftist “solutions” lead to more of the same problems. But leftists would rather advertise their moral superiority than actually solve any problems.

  31. Eugene G. Kelly says:

    It starts like this-pretty soon you have another San Francisco. Once the Corona Virus hits NYC, there will be a major epidemic, killing tons of thousands. And it is NOT compassionate to let these mentally ill people roam the streets-they are a danger to themselves and the public-aside from being vectors for diseases.

  32. Erich Soldat says:

    De Blasio has not been a good mayor for NYC with his “compassionate” approach (not paired with wisdom unfortunately). The homeless situation is getting out of control here in Midtown where I see people screaming, fighting, doing drugs, defecating and sleeping all over our neighborhood. It is not a lack of shelters but a complete lack of policing!

  33. Andio Ryan says:

    Solution:
    1. Build UN-style refugee camps in open, vacant land, with food, and mental and physical health services.
    2. Criminalize sleeping, doing drugs, loitering, and acting out on sidewalks and in public places. Remove people who don’t abide by the laws and take them to their new home (see above).

    1. wolfbyteCA says:

      my city in socal has been tagged ‘Home of the homeless” for over 30 years..and no..the “city” will not clean it up..why you may ask…simple..fear of lawsuites..think about it..

    2. wolfbyteCA says:

      the UN building would make a great homeless shelter..as what it does now is give criminals a place to meet and talk down to the US…and they owe millions is parking tix..and if we cant get them to pay for parking..getting them to peace talks..get rid of bombs etc seems just a silly waste of time/energy

  34. sassygirl58 says:

    DeBlasio and Cuomo are ruining NYC. It’s horrible and they think they are doing a great job. Let’s see – homeless are allowed to live on the streets, criminals are let out with no bail, illegal immigrants are given sanctuary, drivers licenses and free admission to museums;, and the new Tenant rent laws will cause properties to deteriorate. Wow – can’t wait to see what NYC will look like.

  35. God's Cop says:

    Its the DEeBlazio effect

  36. SHAUNE STARK says:

    I love watching liberal idiots reaping what they’ve sown! #LiberalismIsAMentalIllness

  37. SallyG says:

    Most of the homeless do not want housing they only want a handout. What ever happened to NO LIOTERING?

  38. MAGAGIRL says:

    Bring back Giuliani. Problem solved.

  39. Nick says:

    Penn staion is no better…Dems destroying the city.

  40. GREG CARLSON says:

    State telling city it’s your problem. City telling state it’s state problem. One common denominator for both.

  41. nearboston says:

    Vote for a Dem this November if oyu want this in your home town

  42. Jeff McNeal says:

    Is Bloomberg going to take credit for this too?

  43. Raging Tater says:

    Our country’s greatest city being destroyed by democrats …

  44. Bob bobbins says:

    Left New York. No homeless here. Low taxes too.

    1. rdblakeslee says:

      Left Detroit long ago. Same as you – much better life here

  45. Graham B says:

    MTA to shop owners: ‘Drop dead’.

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