A homeless encampment in New York City has thrived on a street corner in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio learning about the encampment three weeks ago and vowing to take action “right away.”
About 15 to 20 vagrants have called the intersection between West 24th Street and Sixth Avenue their home, building makeshift shelters out of shopping carts, flower pots, and other items.
The group has grown from the two people who camped out there before the coronavirus began, but only one woman was seen wearing a mask, the New York Post reported.
As the encampment has grown, it has blocked the entryways to local businesses and deterred potential customers and neighborhood residents from walking in that area.
“I have a lot of customers that complain. They don’t want to come down this block,” said Richard Charlton, owner of Sixth Avenue’s A+ Access Locksmith.
Charlton, whose business was closed from March to June, said it was “discouraging” to overcome one hurdle only to have to overcome yet another.
“I was almost at the brink of shutting down,” he said. “It’s overwhelming to be shut down for so long — business is slow — and to come back to this? It’s discouraging.”
A Post reporter witnessed one of the encampment members smoking what appeared to be crack, and another member of the group admitted that some of them use drugs.
“They take drugs and they pass out. They overdose,” said a woman who called herself Sharon. She described herself as the group’s
“mother.” “I call the ambulance and they go to the hospital, but they come right back.”
Both the homeless and the business owners agree that there has been a non-existent response from the city to solve the homelessness crisis.
“We call the police, but they don’t do nothing,” said a female camp member named Poeta.
The Chelsea encampment was one of three homeless encampments de Blasio said he would “do whatever it takes” to “have it addressed right away” three weeks ago.
There is also a growing homeless encampment in the East Village of New York City to which de Blasio has turned a blind eye. Despite de Blasio’s promise, both encampments remain very much in existence.
De Blasio, instead, has decided to move the homeless from shelters into Upper West Side hotels temporarily due to the coronavirus.
The volunteer crime-fighting Guardian Angels group, however, has decided to step in and help allay New York City residents’ concerns about vagrants and sex offenders being housed in Upper West Side hotels.