Exclusive: 3 Homeless Encampments Swept Away In Manhattan

There are now three fewer homeless encampments in Manhattan. Friday, a multi-agency effort swept away camps in Midtown West and Hell's Kitchen, and those cleanup teams made some surprising discoveries; CBS2's Dave Carlin reports.

Video Transcript

- There are now three fewer homeless encampments in the city. Today, a multiagency effort swept away camps in Midtown, West, and Hell's Kitchen.

- And those cleanup teams made some surprising discoveries. CBS2's Dave Carlin has this exclusive.

DAVE CARLIN: Under this long-standing construction sidewalk shed, a jumbled homeless encampment of tents, bikes, and furniture crowding much of this block of West 41st Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. But Friday morning brought a sweep with NYPD officers and workers from city sanitation and homeless outreach. People here were told, pick a few favorite items, and watch the rest get tossed.

- Unfortunately, it's like, no matter where you go to sleep you're always ended up getting woken up, so on and so forth.

DAVE CARLIN: These city workers were in for a big surprise. Inside this tent, a pair of brand new motorcycles, which encampment members rolled over to their save pile with no apparent follow up by investigators.

The next stop for this crew, another encampment alongside the FedEx building at the corner of West Side Highway and West 48th Street. Now, this is a smaller setup, but not by much. Here, this railing becomes a clothesline next to bikes for riding and boxes for sleeping in. Electricity gets pulled in on extension cords from street lamps. The people who live here are familiar to Maria Martinez, who's worked at FedEx for 16 years. She wants them moved out.

MARIA MARTINEZ: It's not safe. They used to be over there, and they make a fire.

DAVE CARLIN: We were told in these Friday cleanups, no one was eager to take the city up on offers of shelter.

- I would much rather sleep on the street and risk, you know, God knows what being in the street, rather than a shelter, where it's pretty much like a glorified prison.

DAVE CARLIN: Some sanitation workers, who would not talk to us on camera, confided in us that they hate this part of the job. Not only do they feel sorry for the homeless, they face increased dangers when the same homeless return to the same spots, not cared for, on the West side. Dave Carlin, CBS2 News.

- Last month, the Coalition for the Homeless released a report saying that the pandemic led to a record number of single adults sleeping in New York City homeless shelters, and they're calling on political leaders to do more.