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Homeless encampment rises in Williamsburg near BQE

homeless encampment
The homeless encampment on Rodney Street by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Photo by Dean Moses

A large homeless encampment constructed beside the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in south Williamsburg showcases the difficult times Brooklynites find themselves in.

On a patch of grass beside the highway near Division and Rodney streets, where the makeshift shelter located alongside the highway by Rodney Street has been raising eyebrows among neighbors and passersby.

Inside the small greenspace, a large shack strung together by wooden planks, pieces of plastic, and sheets of weather-worn tarp stands near a large pile of garbage.

What appears to be broken plastic furniture from children’s play sets, metal fencing, blankets, clothing, and other debris are also strewn around the area. A well-treaded wooden board serves as a walkway through a maze of carts filled with plastic bags until it reaches the dwelling’s entrance, where a green blanket is draped.

When this sheet is peeled back, it reveals an opening obscured by more objects, seemingly in an effort to ward off unwanted guests.   

This reporter attempted to contact the person living in the encampment, but the dweller did not respond. 

homeless encampment
At the site, located between Division Street and S. Ninth Street, garbage surrounds a homeless encampment.Photo by Dean Moses

Representatives with the Department of Homeless Services said they are in contact with the individuals living on the site and that they visit the encampment frequently.

“Outreach teams canvass this area regularly to engage individuals in need and have already visited this specific location twice this week. DSNY and DOT will be addressing this condition and we and our teams will be on hand to provide outreach services, including a range of shelter options, to any individual(s) who may be residing there,” said a spokesman from DHS, who spoke on background.

The spokesman explained how the agencies deal with homeless encampments and reach out to their inhabitants. 

homeless encampment
The back of the homeless encampment.Photo by Dean Moses

“In our city, we don’t allow obstructions of public places or encampments, and anytime the city encounters, learns of, or receives a report about a condition on the street that needs to be addressed, the city addresses it as quickly as possible, with multiple city agencies responding as appropriate,” the DHS representative said.

In an effort to get homeless people off the streets, DHS has increased its shelter capacity, using both shelter programs and hotels to provide temporary shelter for the unhoused. 

“In the past year since January 2020, as part of our ongoing effort to increase service options and pathways off the streets for New Yorkers in need, we’ve opened more than 1,300 specialized beds dedicated to serving and supporting unsheltered individuals,” said the representative.

Councilmember Stephen Levin did not respond to requests for comment by press time. 

This story first appeared on AMNY.com

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