The benefits of a draconian set of Covid lockdowns are continuing in New York City – if you’re homeless or looking for a place to dump garbage, that is.
That’s because homeless people are now using outdoor dining sheds, erected during lockdowns for restaurants to move their businesses outdoors, for housing.
Heading into the winter months, outdoor dining areas are being used as “hovels for the homeless, giant garbage dumps, and traffic-blocking storage sheds,” according to a new report by the NY Post.
The report says that many of the structures have shuttered as businesses refocus on indoor dining. The Post pointed out abandoned structures outside of restaurants like Boise, Le Sou and the former GMT Tavern.
Michelin-starred Jua uses its outdoor shed for cardboard boxes, the report says, despite the fact that restaurants are not allowed to use the areas as storage, per the Department of Transportation.
One July complaint to the Department of Buildings said: “These sheds are an eyesore — people are now depositing garbage in them. Why are they up months after restaurants have shut down?”
Another referred to the sheds as a “breeding ground” for rats, stating: “It’s not economically feasible for the landlords or (former) tenants to take them down, and the city doesn’t have the political will to get it done.”
Leif Arntzen says he sees homeless people sleeping in the sheds “all the time” and told the Post: “I think they pick it because they’ve got this sort of AstroTurf on the pavement that they can just kind of lay down on.”
And while those on the ground are getting fed up with the structures, politicians have been lacking in action. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick complained about one such structure this week:
According to the DOT, there are about 12,000 outdoor sheds, with 1,202 of those located directly on roadway. It has only instructed the sanitation department to remove 21 of these structures citywide.
A City Council survey of 418 restaurants downtown found that 93% were not complying with “at least one” DOT guideline, the Post reported.
136 complaints about abandoned setups had been placed between May 6 and September 23 of this year.
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