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'They're Traveling And Doing This Purposely,' Some City Panhandlers May Be In It For Fun

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Groups of homeless young people have blown into New York City during the warmer months, and police efforts to make them move on have proven to be challenging.

When spring and summer come to New York City, so do homeless travelers from far away suburbs and cities.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, they gather in Tompkins Square Park.

"I walk through the park often and I have noticed over the last few months it's weird that I see so many young homeless people where usually I see people in their 40s and 50s," Anna Witt said.

Police said some of the disheveled newcomers hopped freight trains from as far away as Seattle.

The park is their central gathering place, and they fan out to the surrounding East Village streets to panhandle.

"Basically they just take and they don't give back. That's the way I feel. They're a burden," one local merchant said.

"There are so many categories. There's the 'crusties,' the 'shilly kids,' the 'punk kids," Angelo explained.

Angelo -- street named 'Gypsy' -- claims to be well-versed on the different groups of homeless, and for a good reason.

"I'm homeless myself," he said, "A lot of these guys believe it or not, their parents are rich. They're traveling and doing this purposely."

Residents and merchants said the trend is harming their quality of life, and they want the city to do something about it.

When CBS2's Marcia Kramer pressed Mayor De Blasio on the subject, he not only knew about them, but railed on them.

"There are other, also people, who are doing it purely out of choice. That's a fact, who think somehow it is fun, and think it's a way to make easy money, and I resent that I really do," he said.

Resenting it, or being annoyed and repulsed by it makes little difference, as long as panhandling remains protected and legal in New York City.

The NYPD has patrols, and hotlines to police precincts so if anyone steps out of line, cops move in. That may have to be enough until the cold months come, and the young visitors move on.

Mayor de blasio said the city has programs to help those who are broke and or mentally ill, but added that he is especially disgusted by those posing as homeless, especially if they use children as they panhandle.


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