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Garment District Alliance Puts Up Flyers Urging People Not To Give To Homeless Panhandling In Streets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With homelessness plaguing the streets of New York City, one neighborhood is asking people not to give to those living on the streets.

"New Yorkers who are complaining so much about it, well, one of the things they can do is stop contributing to it," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said recently of the homeless problem.

And after that comment from Bratton, some areas of New York City are heeding that advice, CBS2's Meg Baker reported. Signs were recently put up by the Garment District Alliance that read "Please help the homeless by not giving them food or money."

"Some people that might think this is sort of heartless, but we really take a different view. We do not want to create a situation where you're making it comfortable for people to live on the street," said Barbara Randall, president of the Garment District Alliance.

Randall said homelessness is a citywide problem. In her neighborhood, each morning dozens of homeless are cleared off benches and the area has to be powerwashed, she said.

"We're not saying don't be helpful. These people need help. The problem from our perspective is, this is the only space that we have in the neighborhood," Randall said.

Randall hopes without handouts, the homeless will then have to rely on city services and move off the streets.

The pedestrian plazas are located near Macy's Herald Square and major transportation hubs, where many workers take their breaks.

"In the morning, the whole barrier here is packed, they're all sleeping here. It's a shame but you don't know who to help and who not to help," said Sal Caruso.

It's the second day the signs have been out on Broadway and most of the people walking around the area told Baker they didn't even notice them. But when they stopped to read them, there were mixed opinions.

"I think that the mayor has been totally neglectful of the problem of the homeless, that has increased seriously," said Eric Lankin.

"First of all, the city should do something; get them some shelter and get them some food. But at the same rate, they're lying on the street so you should give them some money, I mean, they're humans too," said Margaret Asimakis.

George McDonald, with the homeless advocacy nonprofit DOE Fund, said it's not New Yorker's spare change and compassion that's causing the increase in street homelessness.

He said we should be talking about creating more opportunities and services to get people off the streets for good.


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