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Port Authority: Homeless Will No Longer Be Allowed At LaGuardia Overnight

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Friday that homeless people will no longer be allowed to camp out overnight at LaGuardia Airport.

The decision – issued late Friday afternoon – followed an exclusive CBS2 report Thursday night on homeless people living at the airport on a permanent basis.

The Port Authority said people will no longer be able to stay at the airport between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. without a reason. The new rule takes effect Jan. 2.

"To meet our public safety mandate, we will close the LaGuardia terminal to all but ticketed passengers during late night hours," the agency said. "To ensure a safe and secure environment, arrests are made when laws are violated."

In her exclusive report, Baker found homeless people sleeping over a heating duct on a window ledge at LaGuardia -- right next to a Christmas tree.

At 2 a.m. one person was spotted asleep in a wheelchair with plastic bags full of belongings. People were also seen camped out in sleeping bags, and even bathing themselves in public restrooms.

They clean themselves and their clothes in full public view.

"I've been staying here for a while," one 68-year-old homeless man said. "Most everybody here is homeless."

The man said he has been staying at LaGuardia for years. He began talking to CBS2's Baker near the baggage claim carousels in Terminal B.

The man said he prefers to stay at the airport because he feels safe – pointing out a nearby security camera.

"You're much safer here than in a shelter," the man said. "Because with all this stuff here, I can get knifed. I can have bedbugs on me; lice. I'm 68 years old. I don't need the hassle. I sit and watch CNN all day."

At 2:30 a.m., CBS2 counted more than 50 people asleep in the food court, near baggage claim, in waiting areas and tucked away near restrooms. There was an overwhelming smell detectable where the homeless congregate.

They were also seen using the public restrooms to groom themselves. One man bathed and shaved himself in a men's room sink, while a woman dried her clothes on the women's room hand dryer.

Port Authority police said their outreach group, Volunteers of America, tries to help the homeless every single night – but the homeless refuse.

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