With the epidemic clearing city streets, and the NYPD focusing elsewhere, dirty and filthy homeless camps are spreading across the city – revealing the inadequacy of a comprehensive social-service system to prevent such horrors.
A Shantitown spreads down FDR Drive in lower Manhattan, extending south from Catherine Slip to Pier 11, where a resident said “a scene from a zombie movie” called
Security guard Jesse Alberio, 56, who lives nearby, said, “It’s really scary! I won’t be out here at night,” adding that some confused people leaned towards his building and “S-T on the stairs.”
And they are stubborn. Sanitation workers originally encouraged an East Village camp on Second Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets last Sunday – but the “residents” returned within a day.
Locals say the “camps” crossed the street and waited just below the Orpheum Theater, then returned after city workers left.
They even kept their facilities: a desk, a huge headboard, a mattress – as well as access to a city phone-charging kiosk.
Neighbor Vanessa Valdes emailed The Post, saying, “We had 12 hours of blissful peace.” . . . What can be done? “
Mike Tarabih, 45, a cook at a nearby B&H restaurant, said: “It’s too much. Blankets, beds, furniture. They build apartments on the sidewalk. Customers say, ‘No, I’m going somewhere else.’
After police finally broke up and cleared the “City Hall Occupy” homeless camp, Mayor de Blasio announced that he had a “Zero Tolerance” policy; “Tell us about any camp, we will address it directly through Homeless Services, Sanitation, PD. Whatever it takes.”
And yet Shantatowns remain (or will return after a short break), making New Yorkers feel safe from their own home and ‘hood’.
City and city-funded nonprofits are workers who can’t or won’t do what is needed. “Zero tolerance” will continue to look more like “acceptance in your hands” until the mayor refuses to see the only answer to strong love.