NYC homelessness and panhandling - FOX 13 News

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NYC homelessness and panhandling

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Homeless people still sleep under the Manhattan Bridge, but others who used to camp out near its base have been displaced by police and are now calling Park Avenue South home.

Park Avenue South sits in one of the trendiest parts of Manhattan, with businesses, restaurants, hotels, and swank lofts. It's also the street corner home base of Tommy Lanfranchi and his domestic partner Nicole Kilroy, who've been in a methadone program for 10 years. They panhandle here daily. A good day's take is $50 or $60.

Lanfranchi said he used to stay under the Manhattan Bridge, but the cops, who used to be OK with them, ordered everyone out. Lanfranchi said he blames the police crackdown on the daredevil trespassers who attracted a harsh spotlight on loopholes in bridge security. He said they ruined it for everyone.

He said the homeless people divided up the turf and picked their spots on Park Avenue. They try to enforce a code that includes no aggressive panhandling, but it doesn't always work

The couple bides their time in front of an unoccupied business. They sleep nearby in a restaurant entrance and leave early in the morning. They keep their blankets and pillows in bags. They're just a small part of a burgeoning homeless population around union square and Park Avenue South.

And people here have noticed. Women told us not everyone follows the no-aggression code of conduct.

Nicole told me life on the streets is tough, especially for a woman. She dreams about having her own shower one day.

The couple said police pretty much leave them alone. Why don't they go to a city shelter? They said it's too dangerous and they would be separated.

The city Department of Homeless Services is working with the state to come up with new strategies to help the tens of thousands of people now living on our streets.

The NYPD told Fox 5 that panhandling itself is not illegal, but when panhandlers act aggressively or try to block someone's way, they can be arrested for disorderly conduct.

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