A homeless encampment on Franklin and frustrated neighbors

I heard from several neighbors on Franklin Street (between Varick and Hudson) that a homeless man has taken up residence there, and it’s clearly due to the fact that those storefronts on the southside are empty, continuing through to Taylor Swift’s nearly always empty houses.

The man also has many visitors, so his one encampment has turned into a posse on some nights with neighbors counting as many as nine people sleeping on that side of the street. There have also been a couple occasions where the police were called — one particular time included an incident with a hatchet. It gets worse, as you can read from this account from a resident at 156:

“This began with one individual who started sleeping across the street in front of 155 Franklin. He came back each night under the influence or intoxicated and would behave erratically, urinating in public and often pacing the street while yelling to the point I could clearly hear him from inside my apartment. My wife and I have a one year old and accordingly we avoided that side of the street whenever he was around as we actually felt in danger, but otherwise it didn’t really create issues.

“He has since moved down to under the awning on the southwest corner of Franklin and Varick, where he has been joined by perhaps eight more people on recent nights. I and other members of my co-op have noticed open drug use and discarded drug paraphernalia (including needles) as well as other dangerous events on the street. To give a few examples, a member of the co-op’s son was pricked by a hypodermic needle that was tucked into the family’s New York Times. There was an attempted break-in at 158 Franklin Street, where the robber tried to pry open the front door and left it cracked. Finally, the last straw was on Saturday, when a member of the co-op saw a woman passed out facedown on the sidewalk before she was kicked and dragged back to a mattress by another person at the encampment. She was only given help after my neighbor called 911 repeatedly to seek attention.”

The neighbors who have written me have been very sympathetic to the plight of all New Yorkers right now, both the homeless and the housed. (One is a nurse at Lenox Hill.) They also hope that the owners of the properties at 143, 153 and 155 Franklin will address the growing problem on their building frontages. But the situation has not seemed to abate despite both police attention and that of the Department of Homeless Services.

DHS said its outreach team (from not-for-profit service provider Manhattan Outreach Consortium) canvass this location at least once every week, and have determined that two of the individuals are indeed homeless and are now on their list. “We continue to work closely with them to encourage them to accept services and transition off the streets.”

Another four individuals encountered on the streets in this area have not been verified as homeless, but the teams will continue to engage them in order to assess their living situation and determine what services they may need. DHS said their outreach workers were able to place two people in the area into transitional or permanent housing.

They also said neighbors should continue to call 311 so outreach teams can be sent out. The spokesman noted that these individuals are challenged in many many ways, and often not open to suggestions. It also is illegal, according to the NYS Mental Hygiene Law, for homeless services to remove someone from the streets unless they are a danger to themselves or others.

“It takes persistence, tenacity and dedication to build the trust needed to help an individual experiencing unsheltered homelessness accept services and come indoors. We know that it can take hundreds of engagements for someone to accept services and that someone who’s not ready to do so today may be ready to make that transition tomorrow. We intend to keep coming back again and again, through this effort and our ongoing 24/7 outreach, to make those breakthroughs.”



  1. I hope the city can find a way to get these folks the assistance they need. Neither the homeless individuals nor the Tribeca residents are helped by ignoring this problem and allowing these camps to pop up.

    Sadly, this seems to be growing issue in the area beyond just Franklin Street. There have been small homeless encampments for months around the burned-out 111 Church building, both on the Murray Street and Park Place sides. One group has even set up a tent on the street in front the abandoned Barleycorn building.

  2. This encampment has been there for months. There was also a pretty large one on the northwest corner of Hudson and Vestry last time I went by there. That’s been around for a long time too.

    • As for the NW corner of Hudson and Vestry, I believe you are referring to the completely harmless and gentle individual that has lived in and around that area for almost all of my 20 years here. He may have a lot of “stuff” but it is hardly an encampment. He is neat, polite, enjoys reading and is grateful for neighbors who give him books and newspapers. I think we need to make a distinction between what seems to be happening on Franklin and our other neighbors who may not have a permanent physical structure to call home here.

      • So as long as they are respectful it’s okay to “live in the area”? Attention all homeless people: just be respectful and they’ll let you camp on their streets! Pass the word!

        • Last I heard, it was not against the law to be homeless…

          Although if it was, then maybe we would come up with better solutions to help these people.

          • Homeless are a huge problem for nabe. we cannot allow tribeca to become shantytown

            Need to speak up about this issue!

          • “Native” Tribecans rave about how great Tribeca was back before it was so developed and nice. Finally, we can live during those times again! Praise Jesus, what’s new is old again!!

  3. This homeless situation is certainly not getting ANY BETTER now with the City Hall encampment… seriously this needs to be dealt with… I obviously feel bad for them, but this is a risk for them AND for our community. I was verbally attacked by one who was drunk while walking my dogs, i ignored it because it was just verbally , but what if it was something worse?

  4. The people of Tribeca need to open their lofts to these people. Pretend they are cute lost dogs and help them survive! Thanks much.

  5. For those who have families and are renting: time to leave the city. At least for a year or two.

    We will not have ‘normal’ until a vaccine comes (if and when). With the level of unemployment, inequality and suffering that this crisis brought, the city won’t be as friendly as before.

    And what about the approach of City government and the police? “We have tried talking to him to convince him to leave, but he doesn’t listen. Hopefully one day”.

    Families that are working from home: why pay NYC prices to be holed up in your small apt, when you can’t go out (and there’s nothing to go out to in the first place)?

  6. Sad news. Just around corner from the First Precinct station house. What are the Police doing?

  7. This is so very sad. It makes me so upset that the City cannot do more to provide the help these people need. There is also a homeless encampment in the Benson Place alley.

    I would add that scaffolding, in addition to being a nuisance in many ways, also creates opportunities for homeless encampments. Street scaffolding is not a housing solution for the homeless! These people need homes and professional health care. Maybe if the City put as much effort into housing homeless individuals as it did engulfing the entire city under sidewalk sheds this wouldn’t be as big of a problem.

  8. I have also noticed some shady doings on that street which involve money and about 5-6 men hanging around
    that do not appear to be homeless. Looks like drug interactions…

    • It might not have been drug transactions. People wait in line in front of Patron of the New to buy clothes and often pay with cash.

  9. The homeless strike again. Bill DeBlassio fefuses to address the out of hand homeless situation in our city, now it has infested TriBeCa once again. This morning at approximately 5:45am one of DeBlassio’s ” Guests” caused havoc on N. Moore Street and Varick Street. This unwanted visitor threw flower pots from the front entrance of one building on N.Moore Street smashing it onto the sidewalk below, totally destroying it. He then proceeded to throw the flower pots in front of Walker’s onto Varick Street. The police were called but told us that they have instructions “Not to interfere with the homeless”.

    The city homeless situation is totally out of control. Great job Mr. Mayor. I can’t wait until your term has ended and we finally get some real government in New York City.

    • Did you vote in the last two primary and general mayoral elections? It seems not too many people did. That’s how we got this bozo.

      • You can only vote in the primary if you are a registered Democrat. Since the Republicans have not put forward a realistic candidate recently, that’s the only election that matters.

  10. I used to like reading Tribeca Citizen because I live here but after you, Pam, bought the website from Erik, the quality dropped significantly. Despite all your experience, he was a much more skilled writer who didn’t care about being silly and to whom the neighborhood’s colorful fabric, the quirks, the small things all mattered: not just the real estate value attached to it. And he also seemed to be a nicer person because since you became the owner, it has gotten so infuriating to read. Steeped in privilege and drained of all the fun, Tribeca Citizen is truly a rag for the rich now. Just look at the comments you garner. And it’s especially upsetting to see the intensely coddled white straight woman vibes come through as you carefully instruct everyone on getting rid of the homeless population that is obviously growing as people lose homes and livelihoods. Anyone who lives in this ivory tower enclave and can walk past an unhoused person thinking not “poor love, how can I help, what can I donate and what housing bill should I ask my representative to support?” but “oh, how do I get them out of my neighborhood as quick as possible!” is a cruel person, but running a media that encourages this kind of attitude is just staggeringly heartless. And dang, I actually remember Erik helping some folk do a fundraiser to help an unhoused man. Where did all of that go? COVID-19 is tragic but affluenza is the real disease.

    • No, no, no, COVID-19 is the real disease! Look it up! It’s for real! 149K+ deaths in the US alone! Affluenza is just a bullshit term. Where in this post was Pam encouraging that “kind of attitude” or being “staggeringly heartless”? I will want to have a word with her toot sweet! Also, can you please share with us the link to Katya’s Karing Koalition fundraiser so that we can support your tireless efforts to save the world from your stereotypes? I will really try to remember to donate after I am done with my SoulCycle Zoom session.

    • You overplayed your hand when you wrote “white straight woman vibes”.

    • Clearly we have a lot of disagreements here, and that’s fine, but unlike you, I do not feel anyone should have to live on the street. New York City is one of the few cities in the country that guarantees housing. The best way to help the homeless is to contact DHS through 311. The agency contracts out with non-profits who have trained social workers who work with people to get them shelter. And you can find Erik in Santa Barbara at his new publication, Siteline.

      • Thank you for the link, but I still live in Tribeca and my concerns are here.

        If you don’t want people to be homeless, then please educate yourself on the matter: calling 311 is essentially policing unhoused individuals, which results in causing them suffering, trouble, incarceration and other sorts of problem.

        Here is some reading:

        But the easiest way to know that 311 is not the solution is by asking the actual homeless individuals about it.

        Most importantly, I recommend this link: https://snp.urbanjustice.org/
        It’s a great resource and I strongly encourage you to reach out to them if you are indeed concerned about the betterment of conditions for unhoused people. Not only are they a heap of help to those in need, I’m sure you’ll be able to do way more good if you get in touch with them and ask how you can solve homelessness in the area. You’re familiar with many business owners, residents, and you have a resource to speak about: a collaboration with Safety Net could do wonders. Because they actually help lift people up, as does our local Tribeca Mission https://www.bowery.org/ that could also be wonderful potential partners.

        Instead of telling people to call 311 to break up encampments, please consider a holistic approach of advocacy and action and lead your community to heal not police.

        • Always the kritic. Your seething anger, nasty insults and simple stereotypes shouldn’t be directed at Pam or residents, but with how the city handles the situation after someone calls 311, which is exactly what the city advises residents to do. Or you could just continue to write your snarky and self-righteous comments. Like me.

        • Hi Katya,

          I read the articles you linked. I’m not sure they support the point you want to make (about privileged white women or something) and wonder if you actually read Pam’s account before posting.

          The first link was an article from last year when there were numerous murders of homeless people. The support for not calling 311 was an interview with one homeless man who said they do not come with food and a blanket like the ad shows. Yet he did say that he wants a permanent home.

          The second was an article that was not specific to NYC, but a generic article saying not to call 911 or 311 without any specifics.

          The third link was to an organization that provides legal services for people who need it most. While an admirable organization, I do not think it is the solution to the issue described here. As far as we know, there are no outstanding warrants or other legal issues.

          As Pam indicated, calling 311 helps involve DHS. In my experience, the call is escalated to the police if there is some suggestion of violence or aggressive behavior. As Pam’s post discussed, there have been instances of such behavior which is why the police have been involved. Her post also describes how Manhattan Outreach Consortium is continuing to do outreach to the homeless people on Franklin but they do not want to leave the location and so nothing can be done.

          I’m baffled as to how you read the post above and came away with 311 was the wrong tool. It was the tool to get a homeless outreach program involved. No one was harmed by that outreach and no one has been moved.

        • Katya Kazbek – I wholeheartedly agree with you…311 is the wrong tool. We call relentlessly, we fill out web forms…but the NYC government (to whom we pay lots in hard-earned tax dollars) does nothing and/or is ineffective. At the end of the day, our neighbors have taken the problem into their own hands and hopefully have devised a very pragmatic solution – they installed what seems like a 10,000 lumen LED light shining on the encampment after sunset. Perhaps we add a loudspeaker playing Baby Shark / Old Town Road / Gangnam Style on infinite repeat – the kiddies in the neighborhood would love it!

          Alternatively, we get Katya to go over there and have her house them in her “safe space” loft indefinitely while they shoot up etc.

          BTW, someone took their mattress (kid’s trampoline) away the other day – maybe the bald one with the green jacket, who was sleeping on it, decided it was too lumpy.

          And Pam @ Tribeca Citizen, you are doing a wonderful job keeping the community informed of all sorts of news…from restaurant openings, individual spotlights, etc. to local events, your periodical strengthens the community. Keep up the great work!