Not a troll: Hobo builds house on the Manhattan Bridge

It’s a bridge too far gone.

An industrious vagrant has built a 16-square-foot wooden home on the Manhattan Bridge bike path, right under the noses of city authorities — a new low for the once-great span that’s now a magnet for trash, graffiti and hobos.

The ramshackle shed was pieced together with plywood, two-by-fours and cardboard. It lacks indoor plumbing — but the homeowner has a green pail for that.

He also has a lounge chair to take in the fabulous views. The front door, which he latches shut with a bike lock, is more akin to a crawl space.

And he apparently commandeered a metal guard rail to serve as his own white picket fence.

“I don’t know how that guy sleeps in there, because it’s so small, but he wakes up every morning, looking happy. Then he walks around the neighborhood, trying to get food,” said Daniel Juarez, a homeless man living in nearby Forsyth Plaza.

The squatter is a Chinese man in his 50s or 60s who speaks in broken Mandarin. Approached by The Post on Thursday, he rambled on about Mao Zedong  and executed acquaintances, according to a translator.

The Post visited the site four times last week and never saw police approach the shack.

On Saturday morning, the city Department of Homeless Services and other agencies conducted a cleanup in the area. Workers painted over graffiti near the shack, but did not approach the man or address his makeshift abode.

When alerted by The Post, locals and city officials were aghast at the brazen structure — and said the man and his shack are a tragedy waiting to happen.

“A structure like that is not regulated, it’s put together on a whim and it’s dangerous,” said Susan Lee, 44, who grew up in Chinatown and serves with the Alliance for Community Preservation and Betterment. “Someone could very well put the bike lock on that structure while the individual is inside and set it on fire. I hope he gets the help he needs.”

City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli said people can’t simply put down stakes wherever they like in the Big Apple. 

“On one hand, I appreciate the ingenuity and dedication. On the other hand, we can’t allow favelas to pop up around New York,” he said in a text referring to the infamous Brazilian shantytowns.

Jan Lee, 56, grew up in Chinatown during the Dinkins Administration, another era when the Manhattan Bridge was notorious for homeless encampments and armies of squeegee men.

“That shack is an indication that the cancer is coming back,” he said.

Lee blames the city’s ineffectiveness to secure more healthcare workers to provide care for homeless and mentally disturbed people.

“We’ll see more shanties like this because that’s where people would prefer to stay instead of a shelter where no one cares for you,” he said.

Local progressive City Councilman Christopher Marte had a more simple approach — do nothing.

“We are not going to comment on this story and don’t want to bring more trouble to this man’s life. I know he has been there for over a year, but nobody from our office has seen the structure since last winter,” Marte’s chief of staff Caitlin Kelmar said in an email. “He seems to have some mental health issues based on our conversations with him. The Department of Sanitation has taken down the structure multiple times, and I know he has received outreach from either DHS or a local nonprofit because we witnessed it.”

The Department of Transportation would only say the site was cleaned up Saturday.

The Post reported in the fall that homeless encampments full of garbage and soiled tents plagued the bridge’s base and colonnade, which was built to emulate the striking architecture of St. Peter’s Square and the Arc de Triomphe in Europe. 

“You’ve got to be careful over there,” Juarez said. “Those guys do a lot of drugs and are pretty dangerous.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *