A homeless man who had been living above restrooms located on Shore Road between Third and Fourth Avenues was contacted by the Department of Homeless Services and asked to leave on Thursday, July 24, his protracted stay in the park evidence of an ever-present homeless population that has taken up residence throughout southwest Brooklyn, according to local leaders and residents.
Rosanne Bumbico first noticed the man, later identified as Vladimir, living above the restrooms around one year ago. Bumbico explained that she and her neighbors saw Vladimir using strollers and office chairs to climb over the wrought iron fence that encloses the gazebo-like structure located above the bathroom.
“He has mattresses and baby carriages, plus clothes hanging on the fence. He does this constantly,” Bumbico, who lives across the street from the restrooms, told this paper last month. “There’s food everywhere and the smell is so bad you can’t even go there.”
Bumbico noted that she and her neighbors had logged multiple complains with 311 and the New York Police Department beginning on July 5.
“I called 311 and asked them to assist us,” she said. “I don’t want the man arrested or locked up, but he doesn’t belong in the park. He could get killed climbing on the fence.”
According to Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann Vladimir had been in and out of the restroom area since at least October, 2016. As of press time, Vladimir was no longer living above the restrooms, his belongings had been removed and the area has been cleaned.
“I’ve received many complaints and concerns over Vladimir. How we handle homeless complaints is we reach out to Parks and the Department of Homeless Services to provide outreach,” explained Beckmann. “What typically happens is the NYPD, the Department of Homeless Services and Breaking Ground do a coordinated outreach. When there’s garbage or debris, there’s agency help and they offer services. Vladimir agreed to get some help and I’m hoping he does.”
Beckmann confirmed that encampments such as Vladimir’s are not rare throughout Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. When asked, Beckmann rattled off several locations where homeless encampments exist or have existed, including 62nd Street and 10th Avenue, 62nd Street and 12th Avenue, in a vacant building on 88th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues and along 67th Street by Leif Ericson Park.
According to DHS, 2,794 homeless individuals were living on the streets of New York City at the beginning of 2016. However, that number is down by 36 percent from the first count in 2005. In Brooklyn, DHS’s Street Outreach Program collaborates with dedicated housing provider Breaking Ground that provides permanent affordable housing to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Since 1990, more than 13,000 individuals have either avoided homelessness or overcome homelessness thanks to Breaking Ground.
The DHS advises people to call 311 if they see an individual who appears to be homeless or in need of services.
This article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter.