“#Homeless man builds encampment in front of New School building”
A homeless man is living amid an apartment’s worth of furniture arranged outside The New School’s University Center building — where outraged neighbors say the one thing he really needs is a bathroom.
The vagrant moved in under a canopy on Fifth Avenue near West 14th Street about three weeks ago, along with a sprawling collection of shopping carts piled high with tables, chairs, storage boxes and other stuff.
The man, who gave his name as George, said his possessions used to belong to “rich people in the West Village.”
“They leave their items out and dispose of it on the sidewalk when they move. So I take the rich people’s items,” he said.
“I just put them in a shopping cart and bring them here.”
George, who appeared to be in his early 50s, said he formerly lived on the subways and did “OK” until May, when the system began being shut down for daily coronavirus-related cleaning from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Asked when he wasn’t living in a city shelter, he said, “The shelter is murder, man. COVID-19 is there.”
Clyde Ackman, a New School security guard, blamed George’s presence on Mayor de Blasio.
“We called the police about six times. The NYPD came and according to NYPD, the mayor said to leave [the homeless people] alone,” he said.
“I can’t stand this. I’m boiled up over this day and night.”
A construction worker who works nearby called the situation “insane.”
“He is stealing from the community by taking up all that space,” said the hardhat, who gave his name as Frank.
“He poops right by the [parking] meter, he poops on the sidewalk, he urinates there…It stinks sometimes.”
Frank added: “I called the cops on Monday. There was poop on the sidewalk. They came twice. Sometimes he hides inside that stuff. He doesn’t come out. He plays like he isn’t there.”
Dr. Ira Dreacher, an emergency room physician who lives in the neighborhood, said that “it’s not good for anyone having him out here” and that “the city needs to do more to help homeless people out.”
“He’s peeing on the street, it smells plus it’s just unsanitary and unsightly,” Dreacher said.
“He looks like he’s living in a two-bedroom apartment, rent-free.”
Marisa Klein, a Chelsea resident who works in the art industry, asked, “Why isn’t de Blasio addressing the homeless problem? What are the cops doing?”
“This guy is leaving his crap everywhere on Fifth Avenue during a pandemic,” said Klein, 32.
“You can’t help but feel angry — and sad for him.”
An NYPD spokeswoman said she could not find any reports of complaints about the man outside the school.
The 6th Precinct has a good relationship with the school’s security team but has not been made aware of such issues, the spokeswoman said.
A rep for the school said it had alerted the city via 311 numerous times about the issue.
“We are very concerned about this development and have informed the appropriate agencies through the City’s 311 system on several occasions to help remedy the situation,” the spokeswoman said.
City Hall and the Department of Homeless Services not return a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon