Homeless taking over Bronx apartment building stairwell

BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams is escalating his campaign to remove people who are homeless from sleeping in public places from subways to street corners.

But while that's going on, there's a new controversy over people setting up camp in places that don't belong to them.

A group of tenants in the Bronx called 7 On Your Side Investigates after a homeless man started living in the stairwell of their apartment building.

"We should not have to live in fear and filth," tenant Pilar Walker said.

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Walker said the homeless man has been living in the fifth and sixth floors of her Bronx apartment building stairwell -- not for two days, two weeks or even two months -- but for the past two years.

"He has the sixth floor and the fifth floor, so he has a duplex," Walker said. "It's pretty nice and comfortable for him. He has comforters and things of that nature there. I think he even had Uber Eats a few times."

It's a growing concern for many tenants and their young families.

"He was completely naked in the staircase with blood dripping down his arms," tenant Crystal Fenton said.

And it's not just one man. Tenants say his friends come to visit and sleep there with him.

"He and his friends go up and down, up and down all night, it's like they own the staircase, they own the hallway, and it's like we have to work around them," Fenton said.

This isn't a new problem at the large HUD subsidized building on Simpson Street, and renters say they've reached out to apartment management about two dozen times.

They've also called the police repeatedly, but they say when officers come, the man leaves and comes right back.

7 On Your Side Investigates reported on a similar issue taking place at a different Bronx apartment building last July. Homeless people have been living in the stairwell, and nothing has been done about it.

Residents there bought their own security cameras.

"Trust me, I do have empathy for him," Walker said. "I can understand, but he needs not to be in that stairwell in that building."

When we showed up with our cameras to the Bronx apartment building, an office worker gave us the number of the apartment manager to call. She told us they've been trying to remove the man and get him the help he needs for months.

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Jovana Rizzo, a spokesperson for Tupelo Apartments Property Management emailed us the following statement:

"This has been a concerning issue for the larger community since the pandemic began. We, along with the prior owner and manager, have been working with our city partners to address it. We are also reminding residents with signage to never let someone in the building that they don't know, and never prop doors open. We will work with our residents, the City, and nonprofit partners to collectively come up with a strategy to ensure our homes are secure and homeless New Yorkers have access to the services they need."

We will let you know what happens, and if and when the homeless man gets the care he needs.

"I hope they remove him before something terrible happens," Walker said.

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