Three weeks after Mayor Bill de Blasio heard concerns over trash-covered sidewalks and pledged to crackdown on Manhattan's homeless encampments that have sprung up, crews finally were starting to address the issues.
Sanitation teams hit the streets (or, more accurately, the sidewalks) in Chelsea to clear items that have been accumulating for months. The trash came as part of a homeless encampment on Sixth Avenue between West 23rd and 24th Streets, with neighbors complaints piling up almost as high as the garbage.
"We've been calling police, calling the council members, sending notes to Bill de Blasio — nobody had done anything," said Remy Touledo, who lives in the neighborhood. Nearby residents said that with the encampment came crime and harassment, with some saying they've had to take extra security measures on their homes in order to prevent break ins.
"We've got crow bars on our locks. I've seen people walking down the street trying to open up doors," said David Klass, who lives in the area.
While residents are happy to see something finally being done and the camp cleaned out, some fear it will simply return once again. One person said the homeless who lived there come back every morning.
It isn't just an issue for Chelsea — these encampments are popping up across the five boroughs. A sprawling set up was found in Bushwick, outside the Morgan Avenue L train stop. In the East Village, remnants could still be seen from a previous encampment which had previously been cleared out.
The city also disbanded the NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit earlier in July, a group that worked hand-in-hand with social services to help get the homeless off the streets and into the shelter system. The officers that were a part of that unit were reassigned to help fight the surge in crime.