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SoHo Residents Say Homeless Flocking To Neighborhood, Setting Up Campsites

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Residents in SoHo say the homeless situation there is out of control.

Desperate for a place to sleep, many homeless are camping out near a SoHo park, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

"They've camped out," said Squirrelly Milhorn, of SoHo. "They've been here for a while."

Residents in SoHo say they've seen an increase in homelessness -- and it's not just people sleeping on benches, but also setting up campsites.

"Only the past couple of months. It seems like one brings another, brings another, and it's very sad, but they shouldn't be sleeping right here," said Michael Sherman. "A lot of kids. It's a safe neighborhood."

Vesuvio Playground on Thompson and Spring streets is filled with parents, nannies and children, while just outside forts for shelter are set up with cardboard boxes, blankets and shopping carts.

"I'm not very comfortable walking by them when I've got kids in the stroller," said Sharon Mantel, a mother.

CBS2 tried to speak with a couple who was asleep under blankets surrounded by their belongings.

In a moment of friction Tuesday, a resident confronted the homeless and said he'd pray for them, but later angrily tossed something at the couple.

Joe, who has lived on the streets in SoHo for years, said he's never had so much company.

He said the couple under the blankets "moved in a couple weeks ago" after they were kicked out of Washington Square Park.

"I wish, Mayor (Bill) de Blasio, you would do something about this, so at least the homeless can be taken care of, and we also could be taken care of and use our own neighborhood," said resident Aaron Schneider. " ... So I'd appreciate it if you could do something about it. You're the mayor."

CBS2 asked the mayor.

"Encampments ... we do not accept, which means where there's actually a constant presence, physical presence, literally mattresses and other things there. We don't accept that. And we, with the NYPD and Homeless Services, very aggressively took down those encampments over the last month," de Blasio said.

"But any place that crops up as a new problem, we'll address very aggressively."

The mayor's office said later the sleeping couple left the park and NYPD Homeless Outreach will be removing their items Tuesday.

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