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Homing in on homeless encampments

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Mayor de Blasio is taking heat on allegedly out-of-control homeless encampments.

One of his constant scourges, The New York Post has recently been hounding him over homeless camps, from a new one under the F.D.R. Drive near South St. Seaport to entrenched ones, like the seasonal crusty encampment on Second Ave. at E. Seventh St.

The Second Ave. one has been around, off and on, for several years now, ever since a horrific gas explosion in March 2015 leveled three buildings, leaving the corner vacant behind a chain-link fence. Crusty travelers camp out there in the warm weather, but have frequently drawn the ire of local residents.

Police have intermittently cracked down on the young travelers in the past, using light towers, for example, to illuminate the spot at night.

Listening to something on the free city WiFi kiosk, left, and hanging out at the lean-to structure, right, on Second Ave. (Photo by The Village Sun)

While a new building going up on two of the Second Ave. lots has topped-out, it’s still under construction and is ringed by a sidewalk shed, which is often a magnet for the homeless.

On Monday afternoon, three crusties were puttering around under the shed at their encampment. They had hung up a tarp and cobbled together some thrown-out furniture to form a sort of lean-to.

When one of them noticed The Village Sun snapping photos of them, he gave the double finger, then shambled over to the scaffolding, and while clutching onto it, wretched. A thin viscous stream of yellow puke flowed from his mouth down to the pavement.

Good shot — or just luck? (Photo by The Village Sun)

But at least his aim was intact: His vomit landed perfectly inside a purple heart on the sidewalk. Then again, who knows if he was even aiming?

The man next clamped headphones over his skull and listened to something on the city’s free WiFi kiosk conveniently right next to their lean-to.

A tall older area resident was passing by with a small plastic bag from an errand. Asked if the crusty encampment bothered him at all, he simply said no, then continued on his way.

Outside the old P.S. 64, on E. Ninth St. east of Avenue B, a man nodded off amid a pretty mellow homeless encampment. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Another long-running East Village homeless spot is outside the old P.S. 64, at 605 E. Ninth St. The building, which most recently was the CHARAS/El Bohio Cultural and Community Center, has sat vacant for more than two decades as developer Gregg Singer has battled the community in vain to create an alleged university dormitory there.

As on Second Ave., a sidewalk shed here gives the homeless some shade and shelter from the elements.

The old school building’s 10th St. side is also a spot where the homeless hang out.

Meanwhile, across town in Greenwich Village, homeless people also reportedly recently set up an encampment at W. 10th St. and Seventh Ave. South, blocking the entrance to several businesses.


  1. Patricia Melvin Patricia Melvin July 29, 2020

    Living on that gas explosion block…have to walk in the street – the bus lane – to avoid the filthy homeless encampment. Homelessness is inevitable in a world where exorbitant rents are allowed. Housing is a basic necessity of life and landlords’ profits should be made public so a realistic discussion can begin about what is a fair profit.

    • Patricia Melvin Patricia Melvin July 29, 2020

      Government subsidizing housing = subsidizing wealthy landlords.

  2. Marci Marci July 28, 2020

    The top photo should win some kind of press award.

  3. Jojo Jojo July 28, 2020

    I have to walk in the street with my walker due to the 2nd Ave encampment. The same is true due to restaurant tables on the SW corner of 5th St. In both locations the only area to walk on is a grating in which my wheels get caught. I fear I will be hit by a car but see no alternative. The sidewalks in the neighborhood are narrow and broken as it is, these obstructions only exacerbate the situation.

  4. Lynn Marrapodi Lynn Marrapodi July 28, 2020

    I live on 6th street and 2nd avenue, and we have an encampment on the corner going east on 6th street. That side of the street has our locked garbage gate, often infested with rats. We have cotton it mostly under control, but now with the foods the homeless leave thrown on the streets, the mattresses and their garbage and clothes and furniture…the rats are coming back. I have called the Rat Patrol (they say they are not taking an requests now ), the Police (they say they can’t do anything) The Dept of Health (said they’d make a note about it)…and 311. All to no avail. The side of our building reeks of urine and food and rats.
    The city administration is irresponsible and inept. More filth that no one will clean up even during this apocalyptic pandemic. What a disgrace.

  5. Bill Weinberg Bill Weinberg July 28, 2020

    OK, is a shot (actually TWO shots) of vomit really a representative image for a story about homeless encampments?

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