NEW YORK - Mayor Eric Adams' plan to dismantle homeless encampments in the city took a dramatic turn Wednesday when more than half a dozen people were arrested for refusing to leave an encampment in the East Village.
For seven hours Wednesday, men and women experiencing homelessness sat defiantly on the sidewalk where they have been sleeping for several weeks as the NYPD and sanitation department tried to clear their encampment.
By the end of it, city workers threw their tents and bags in a garbage truck. Police arrested seven people for obstruction of government administration.
Cynthia Vee told CBS2's Ali Bauman she was one of six people who had been living on the East Ninth Street sidewalk.
"We asked them to voucher our belongings, and they put them in the garbage trucks," Vee said.
City Hall says only four people were living on the sidewalk by their count, but not one accepted the city's offer to stay in a shelter.
"With my friends in a community, it's safe. People go in pairs into the men's shelters, they're so scary and dangerous," Vee said.
Caroline Ratcliffe lives in an apartment on the block.
"It's difficult for people to walk on that side of the street when there's a homeless encampment," she said.
In March, Adams ordered agencies to.
The NYPD says 318 encampments have been cleared out since.
"The initiative continues to progress and to take people who are experiencing homelessness, to move them off the streets and out of these unsafe conditions and to get them into a more stable situation and connect them with services that many of them need," NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said.
Police were met with ire on the block from advocates who argue in order to resolve the city's homeless crisis, the mayor first needs to expand affordable housing.
"The city should use all this energy and all of this money to get people into apartments," said Helen Strom, of the Safety Net Project.
"I find this to be incredibly reactive and honestly, this tactic and what I've seen, the spectacle and resources used, I find it to be very unproductive and I find it harmful," City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera said.
In a statement, a City Hall spokesperson told CBS2:
"The mayor has been clear from the beginning that every New Yorker deserves dignity, and there is no dignity in living on the street. We have been engaged at this site for weeks, and our teams then and today were respectful and made repeated offers of shelter and wraparound services to provide these individuals with clean, safe places to sleep tonight. We will not be dissuaded from offering those on the streets the support they deserve, while ensuring that our public spaces remain clean for all New Yorkers."
"We just saw the city spend tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, to arrest homeless people and throw all their stuff away. They repeatedly said all they want is housing, all they want is apartments. Not a single person that came by today was there to help with housing or an apartment," Strom said.
"If you're living from paycheck to paycheck, you're one family problem, one illness, one crisis away from being in a tent next to mine," Vee said.
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