Manhattan Bridge
© joel raskin's flickr

The homelessness epidemic in NYC reached new highs last year, with HUD reporting that 64,060 people were living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, in abandoned buildings and on the streets. While the national rate has been in decline, homelessness in NYC increased by more than 13 percent from the year prior. So where have all these homeless people been living? According to the Post, some of them have been getting comfortable INSIDE of the Manhattan Bridge.

The Post reports that there are spaces built into the underside of the upper deck of the bridge (above the bike lanes, below car traffic) that a few homeless people have converted into "coffin-sized living spaces." That includes one space built into the bridge frame near the Manhattan entrance where a Chinese man in his 40s has been staying. Police only discovered these spaces when that man was spotted last Sunday climbing a fence to get to his space; he was mistaken for a jumper, which led cops to discovering his shack.

"It's pretty cool, it's a very New York story," said West Village resident said Debra Vitale. "I mean, hopefully, he's safe, and he has some way of supporting himself so he gets food." It's a very NY story, and certainly the Manhattan Bridge has a hell of a view, but it's not "pretty cool" to be forced to resorting to live in a 10.5 foot space sandwiched between a bellowing subway line and a major vehicular bypass - especially when local government helped foster the environment in which this has to happen by enacting rules making it tougher for those in need to enter the city's shelter system. But hey, homeless is a good sign of a vibrant economy, and god works in mysterious ways, right?