Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's doing in...Williamsburg: "It's like St. Mark's in the '70s" (but! "This is not Haight-Ashbury")

The Daily News investigates the alleged increase in squatters living in Williamsburg.

Let's just jump right in!:

Heroin-addict hobos from around the country are overrunning hipster haven Williamsburg — living in stalled luxury condo projects in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood.

The newcomers, who call themselves "gutter punks," are stirring outrage among residents and shopkeepers who charge the bums brawl on the sidewalk, shoplift and shoot heroin in trendy cafe bathrooms.

"It's like St. Mark's in the '70s," said Williamsburg activist Philip DePaolo, referring to the notorious East Village hangout. "It's the bad old days all over again. There's crack and heroin all over the neighborhood."

The squatters, from middle-class families, hop freight trains to the city, where they can earn up to $150 a day panhandling in Manhattan. At night, like plenty of other borough commuters, they return to their homes: grubby hideaways inside boarded-up lots that pock the once-booming neighborhood.

"I've got to sleep somewhere, and I might as well do it in Williamsburg," said Stuart, 22, a Florida college dropout.

The admitted alcoholic and heroin user makes $15 an hour panhandling in Union Square, holding a sign that reads "Traveling Broke and Sexy."

"The girls here like it that I'm dirty and I ride trains," he added.

The vagrants - who also call themselves "crusty punks" - swarmed into Williamsburg this spring, drawn by open-minded young people and vacant lots.

And what do local politicos think?

"This is not Haight-Ashbury," said Community Board 1 member Evan Thies. "This is a family neighborhood."

And the cops?

Cops said they haven't seen an increase in crime or vagrants, but would monitor the area.

Also in the Daily News today:
For some homeless drug addicts, squatting is made easy in Williamsburg

For further reading:
Reader Rant: Williamsburg's Squatters' Row Has Got to Go (Curbed)
'Lots' of Woe in W'Burg (New York Post)
The BillyBurg Bust (New York)
‘Eternal Sunshine’ house may not be torn down after all (The Brooklyn Paper)
Eternal nightmare of the not-so-spotless crackhouse (The Brooklyn Paper)


Anonymous said...

It's the beginning of the end for NYC. It starts on the fringes then moves in.

Ken Mac said...

Ooohhhh! Scary! Hipsters betta watch yer back

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

finally, some signs of life.

hntrnyc said...

NIce work grieve. I had no idea, but then I only go into Williamsburg for the shawarma at Oasis.

Anonymous said...

It's actually the beginning of the end for the Hipsters and the 10 year Fraud they've perpetrated on this city. They were always one step away from this anyway. Ha, I called this shit 2 years ago. They wanted to turn WB into the next East Village? Watch what you ask for.