De Blasio claims abundant NYC homeless encampments are ‘very, very rare’

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the head-scratching claim that homeless encampments are “very, very rare” in the city — despite the proliferation of sprawling shantytowns that has been well documented across the five boroughs in recent months.

“I just want to say, once in a while we still see something that’s an encampment,” de Blasio said at a remote City Hall press briefing Monday.

“That means people trying to set up basically permanent lodging on the street, but it’s very, very rare in New York City right now because we made a decision years ago in this administration to stop what had happened for decades before and not allow those encampments,” he said.

“So sometimes you see what we call a hot spot which is people congregating, but not setting up, you know, a living place, in effect,” he insisted.

A 1010 WINS reporter had asked the mayor about a group of vagrants living under a tent at Whitney and Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens, since early April.

A small homeless camp has been set up on the corner of 8th Avenue and West 33rd Street
A small homeless camp has been set up on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 33rd Street.James Messerschmidt

“Whatever it is in Elmhurst, we’re going to go deal with it,” he vowed. “This issue will be addressed right away in Elmhurst.”

Pablo Restrepo, who owns the Hallmark Pharmacy near the makeshift Elmhurst shelter, wasn’t surprised by the mayor’s blind spot.

“Of course he would say encampments are rare. It doesn’t affect him. He’s not around it. He doesn’t see it. He’s not coming home to this every goddamn day!” Restrepo fumed.

He said there are 50 to 75 homeless people who sleep outside nightly on platforms and mattresses under a canopy.

On Monday, a Post reporter spotted seven small makeshift bedrooms built on the sidewalk around a community sink operated with a foot pump.

But the problem stretches far beyond the one encampment in Queens.

A homeless man was stabbed and left to die in a pool of his own blood on West 38th Street on Saturday. He reportedly was living nearby in a cardboard tent set up near a parking lot between Ninth and 10th avenues.

Just a few blocks away there is a smattering of tents set up outside the Farley Post Office.

Last month, The Post documented a series of encampments under the FDR Drive from Catherine Slip to Pier 11. The makeshift shelters were outfitted with cast-off furniture, mattresses and even barbecues.

Before Monday, de Blasio himself ordered officials to clear homeless enclaves in the East Village and the one at the foot of City Hall that started as an anti-police protest site.

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