NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Homeless encampments have become a growing problem in Manhattan.
Residents in Hell’s Kitchen say they have reported criminal acts they’ve seen on the streets, but nothing’s being done.
Dozens of homeless camps dot New York City’s sidewalks with increasingly elaborate set ups.
There’s cardboard and curtains at one on 51st Street in Hell’s Kitchen. Ximena Munoz lives nearby.
“They’re using. They’re injecting themselves. They’re passing out on the sidewalk,” she told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
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Neighbors report fighting and drug sales, and they say they’ve caught drug use on video — not just under scaffolding, but also right out in the open.
“I call the police all the time. Last week, I called four times and they didn’t do anything,” Munoz said.
Video shows police driving by and continuing past one encampment.
The fire department inspected one location, but no immediate action was taken.
Residents have been told that despite videos, criminal behavior must be witnessed firsthand by officers.
The city’s health department is primarily responsible for getting help for the people who live on the sidewalks, but workers tell CBS2 it’s too dangerous and challenging a job to do alone.
One homeless outreach worker offered encampment members treatment and places to stay, but they declined.
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“It’s not acceptable on any level,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Recently, the mayor admitted agencies need to be better coordinated.
“The neighborhood residents deserve better, and the poor folks who are addicted deserve better,” he said.
“We have gotten mostly complaints about the same encampments over and over,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said. “If you’re dealing drugs, NYPD should get involved, but you do need a coordinated effort.”
Brewer sent a letter to city officials demanding they do more about the camps.
Residents fear cold weather may lead to more trespassing.
In one video, a man believed to be homeless charges his phone inside an apartment building lobby.
Building managers removed a bench and glued covers over the electrical outlets, saying they’re doing something themselves to deter a problem some say the city’s unable to handle.
CBS2 reached out to the Department of Buildings because once sidewalk sheds and scaffolding get removed, the camps disband, but with COVID causing delays, many of the sites are requesting extensions and getting approved for them.
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