From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Homelessness At McCarren Park

This item comes from a person we’ll call “L”. He/she writes:

I live across from the Vincent V. Abate Playground part of McCarren Park, otherwise known as “tent city” for all the homeless people that sleep/pass out in the playground area. Actually saw 1 guy passed out on the kiddie bridge and another pissing down the slide….awesome! Well, I decided to call some type of williamsburg/greenpoint public official so I found the email address to Assemblyman Lentol’s office (the guy who swam the canal for google internet) and voiced my utter disgust of the upkeep of McCarren Park. I emailed them a bunch of links of sites (your included) that showed how bad it really is and they got back to me with this….

“I’ve been told that the Parks Department has added 3 more workers to McCarren Park this week. Two more workers have been added for the summer to work weekend/late nights to supplement the efforts of the Parks Department. An interagency task force has been organized to address the homeless issue. A Parks Enforcement Patrol Officer is going to be hired for the district as well.”

Now I have no idea if the Parks Dept. is just blowing smoke or what but I’m hopeful..

This brings up a something I have been noticing a lot of late: a very visible increase of homelessness in our parks— and north Brooklyn in general. I have observed encampments at McCarren Park, Transmitter Park, India Street and the American Playground to name a few. I am not the only one either: I learned this when I spoke with a Department of Sanitation employee yesterday afternoon.

After I pointed out to him that someone has been living in the above car for at least two months (he said three) and he pointed out a new homeless encampment under a parked tractor trailer I asked him the $64,000 question:

Is it just me or is there a much more visible— and sizable— homeless population here than in recent years?

His answer was “yes” and he went on to tell me:

1. about how he and his partner accidentally crushed two homeless people to death when they tossed what they thought was a pile of rubbish into the back of his truck. He was truly horrified and traumatized by this.
2. he and his colleagues have been complaining to the city only to have these people taken into observation and later return.

I guess what I am trying to get around to is this: more workers at McCarren might improve the deplorable conditions at this park— but it is not going to address the homeless problem. While “an interagency” task force sounds promising, what strategy do they have to address what has to be (in my opinion) the largest homeless population I have seen here since 2002? I’m talking about addressing the core roots of homelessness, e.g.; unemployment, mental illness and substance abuse to name a few— not merely kicking the can by forcing them to move elsewhere (which seems to be what is going on now). Thoughts/observations anyone?

Miss Heather

UPDATE, July 1, 2010; It would appear L has received a call from New York’s Finest!

Hey missheather. so I just got a phone call from the 94th precinct about a complaint that I made to 311 about the homeless problem in McCarren Park and the officer sounding a little annoyed told me this “well, if they’re asleep in the grass at McCarren Park then I don’t see anything wrong with that, it’s not illegal to be homeless” and I said of course its not illegal but you have to know of the growing homeless problem in the neighborhood, especially in McCarren Park? His answer “I am not aware of this”…..WTF!!! After I told him about the issue of them camping out in the play ground and pissing on the slides and what not then he was more understanding saying “oh, well in the playground that’s a different story, we’ll send someone over there now”. As if their going to still be in the same spots as the morning…..I don’t know about you but I get the feeling that the police are either out of touch or just don’t feel like dealing with it.


3 Comments on From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Homelessness At McCarren Park

  1. SpillConspirator on Wed, 30th Jun 2010 7:38 pm
  2. This is the Mayor’s affordable housing plan for Greenpoint. Greenpoint hasn’t seen one affordable housing unit as promised during the rezoning, but there’s plenty of homeless people.

  3. theiconman on Mon, 6th Sep 2010 4:37 pm
  4. I’m sorry but Miss Heather, what would your solution be? The City and NY State are borderline bankrupt. This increase in homelessness I suspect is directly related to the fact that every government agency in NYC has been cut, including 9.4% of the Parks Department, Perhaps NY Shitty could do a fundraiser or something to combat this?

  5. missheather on Mon, 6th Sep 2010 5:14 pm
  6. There is no easy solution to this problem, theiconman. While fund raising (especially for entities such as the Greenpoint Reformed Church, whose food pantry and dinners have provided succor to many in need hereabouts) is a laudable idea methinks what is needed foremost and above all is a total rethinking of how we approach homelessness. For starters, we should be addressing the root causes (which are many: mental illness, substance abuse problems, a poor economy and a dearth of affordable housing are but a few factors that come to mind.) instead of treating it as “police problem”. Merely rousting people and citing them for vagrancy is kicking the can.

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